Automotive Ads Will Run With a Warning on Pollution: “Think About Carpooling”


Would you still buy a car if, at the end of a commercial listing its features, you’d get a warning about how you should consider alternative means of transport, like walking or cycling? Here’s to hoping you would, because it’s the reality on the French market. Or will be, better said. France has been pushing back against an all-out ban on ICE (internal combustion engine) cars, but it is still working toward a 2035 deadline for emissions reductions. As part of this push toward more sustainable transport, the Ministry of Ecological Transition has redacted a new bill that will force automakers to include warnings slash disclaimers at the end of each ad for their vehicles. The bill has passed and will go into effect on March 1, 2022, Le Monde reports. It will force all automakers selling on the market to include messages like “for short journeys, consider walking or cycling,” “think about carpooling” and “for commuting, use public transit.” The messages will be displayed in all ads for all media, whether it’s print, television, online or radio. For all these media, except radio, automakers must also include the hashtag “#SeDéplacerMoinsPolluer,” which translates to “moving with less pollution.” Advertisers who fail to display the messages are facing fines up to €50,000 (approximately $57,000 at the current exchange rate) per broadcast. If you’re getting a sense of deja vu with this new bill, it’s because it’s inspired by similar campaigns with food products and cigarettes. Most recently, companies selling unhealthy products like sweets and junk food were obligated to include extra information in the ad, such as nutritional values and a word of advice for choosing healthier alternatives. Automakers selling in France will comply, the publication reports, but that’s not to say they’re happy about it. Hyundai CEO Lionel French Keogh says that the warnings fail to make a distinction between ICE cars and EVs, which feels counterproductive in terms of encouraging a wider adoption of the latter. It might actually lead to a “stigmatization” of the automobile, because the message is that it must be replaced by something other than a car. “I take note, we will adapt,” Keogh concedes. “Having zero-emission mobility solutions is the meaning of history.”