BMW found itself in deep water with the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) after a Facebook user logged a complaint about one of the manufacturer’s Facebook ads.
An ad for the BMW i3 caused controversy, after an owner claimed that: “Having driven petrol guzzling cars before, I realised that it is now time to switch to an electric car.
“With zero emissions, the i3 really is a clean car and helps give back to the environment.”
The complaint, backed by ASA, questioned whether the claim that the i3 is a zero emissions car could be substansiated.
BMW defended the advertisement, saying that it would normally qualify the claim with the term “driving”, however as the claim came in the form of an unscripted customer testimonial, this was not the case.
BMW also claimed that as the customer had stated that they had driven a “petrol guzzling car” before, the comparison was between an electric car and a petrol-fuelled car, rather than no car at all.
While comparative claims such as “greener” and “friendlier” can be justified, the ASA disagreed with BMW’s defence, ruling: “Before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publications, marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that consumers are likely to regard as objectie and that are capable of objective substantiation.”
The ASA has since ruled that the advert must not appear again in the same form.
Do you think the ruling is fair? Have you seen similarly dodgy ads? Let us know in the comments below.