The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld complaints against claims made in a radio advert for the expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in London.
In the ad, which ran in February and March 2023, the voiceover said that “according to research, one of the most polluted places in London is inside your car. That’s why the ULEZ is expanding across all London boroughs.”
The complainants challenged the claim, saying it was misleading and couldn’t be substantiated.
In response, the Greater London Authority (GLA) pointed to ten studies showing that the inside of a car was one of the spaces most exposed to air pollution. It also said that evidence showed that exposure to air pollution was highest when people were closer to the source of emissions.
The ASA upheld the complaint, saying it “expected to see evidence that compared the level of air pollution in cars in London to the level of air pollution in a variety of other contexts in which a person in London might find themselves.”
Acknowledging that London has an air-quality problem, the ASA said the claim about pollution inside a car “had not been adequately substantiated and was likely to materially mislead”.
Clarity needed over ‘zero emissions’ claims
In separate rulings, the ASA has clamped down on the use of ‘zero emissions’ in advertising material. Upholding complaints about online ads for MG and BMW electric vehicles, it says manufacturers must make clear the fact that EVs are only zero-emission when they’re being driven.
Both MG and BMW confirmed that ‘zero emissions’ had been removed from their adverts, with the German company also confirming that they had ceased bidding on ‘Zero Emissions Cars’ keywords and reviewed all generic keywords they were bidding against.