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Advertiser: Toyota Ireland
Medium: Online (3rd party)
ASAI Code 7th Edition: 2.4(c), 4.1, 4.4, 4.9, 4.10
An advertisement on the advertisers’ YouTube channel stated:
“It's easy to predict the future of electric motoring when you're ahead of your time.
Toyota has more than double the patents on battery technology than the next car manufacturer.
Powered By Purpose
Toyota. Built For A Better World”
The complainant objected to the advertisement on the following grounds:
The complainant considered that the claim to be “ahead of your time” was misleading as they believed that the advertisers were behind other car manufacturers in electric cars. The complainant said that while the advertisers may have been ahead of their time in 2008, it was now 2021 and they had no electric vehicles.
The complainant considered that the claim to have ‘double the patents on battery technology than the next car manufacturer’ was misleading as the advertisers would need to prove that they had twice of patents than a named electric car producer or any other motoring manufacturer.
Issue 1 and Issue 2:
The advertisers said that they had long been synonymous with hybrid vehicles and that it was with the introduction of Prius in 1997 that hybrid vehicles first became a viable alternative to petrol powered vehicles. They said that it had opened the doorway for the production of more hybrid cars and that Prius was not only the most popular hybrid ever produced, Toyota were the number one hybrid car brand in Ireland and has been for many years now.
The advertisers said that nearly all hybrid vehicles used lithium-ion batteries, and there had been some concern for some time about how environmentally friendly these batteries were. They said that this was why many car brands were searching for an alternative, namely through the use of solid-state batteries. Finding the right technology for the perfect solid state battery took time, however, the advertisers said that they considered that they were leading the race. They said that in the past ten years, the number of patent applications for solid state batteries worldwide had risen from 337 in 2009, to 1700 in 2018 (1), with Toyota having filed the most, far ahead of the second biggest filer, which was a company that was not in the car manufacturer category . They said that it was important to remember that it took up to 18 months between filing a patent and it being published, further proving their initiative.
In response to the complaint that Toyota would need to prove they have ‘twice the number of patents than any named manufacturer or any of the other manufacturers’, they said that this statement in itself was problematic as the named manufacturer’s batteries are sourced from another party and, and therefore could not be brought into an argument regarding car batteries.
They said that their advertisement claimed that Toyota has more batteries than the next car manufacturer, and they provided a table from the European Patent Office (2) which showed that Toyota was clearly the leading car manufacturer with 2,564 patents with the next car manufacturer coming in with 778 patents. They said that 2,564 was more than double 778, which substantiated their claim that “Toyota has more than double the patents on battery technology than the next car manufacturer”.
They said that they hoped the figures showed that Toyota has always been planning ahead and working towards the perfect solution for car batteries, long before other car manufacturers have been doing so, proving them to be ‘ahead of their time’.
Complaint Not Upheld
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response.
The Complaints Committee considered the ‘ahead of your time’ aspect of the complaint. While the statement could be open to interpretation, the Complaints Committee considered that, when taken in the context of the claim regarding batteries, ‘ahead of your time’ was in the context of the number of patents on battery technology. They did not consider that there a breach of the Code on the basis suggested in the complaint.
The Complaints Committee noted the advertising claim that the advertisers had more than “double the patents on battery technology than the next car manufacturer.” And the information provided about relative number of patents on battery technology that supported the advertising claim. On the basis of the information provided they did not consider that there was a breach of the code on the basis suggested in the complaint.
No further action required.