Mercedes-Benz has clarified its series of ads that recently garnered chatter after being called out by sustainability review platform Wherefrom for greenwashing. Its spokesperson told MARKETING-INTERACTIVE that this is not a global brand campaign. Instead, the images were localised social media content by Mercedes-Benz Mexico for Earth Day in April this year. It also continued to be posted during the first week of May as a follow-up.
The original claim of the Mexican Earth Day communication was in Spanish and read “Nuestro future siempre ha estado aqui” (Our future has always been here). The spokesperson added:
The English motifs and the claim were adapted, changed and distributed by the former creative agency for the Mexican and Latin American markets without any approval of Mercedes-Benz. We did not create nor approve the English claim 'Nature or nothing'.
The spokesperson also clarified that none of these adapted contents have been published on any Mercedes-Benz social media channels.
The brand was recently called out by Wherefrom and its agency 10 Days London for associating the brand with the beauty of nature in its ads. The ads used images of nature from a rose to the veins of leaves, a honeycomb, and lightning. A circle is placed in the middle of the ads to showcase the Mercedes-Benz symbol. The copy at the bottom of the ad reads: "Nothing or Nature. Climate change. It's already here. Mercedes EQ."
As a rebuttal, Wherefrom said it decide to give these ads a more "realistic makeover" by replacing the beautiful images with pictures of drought, oil spills and fires. According to Wherefrom's co-founder Adam Williams, the team came to know about the ads after being contact by one of its reviewers via its Stop the Wash initiative. "Transparency is extremely important and this is a clear case of greenwashing. We want to encourage any car manufacturer to be more transparent and not resort to greenwashing," he said.
Meanwhile, founder and creative director at 10 Days London, Jolyon White, said this is "the most shameless example of greenwashing it has ever seen". He added that many have been "ignorantly sharing the ads" and praising it as "clever" and "wonderful".
George White, strategy director and co-founder at 10 Days London, added that Mercedes-Benz is "a huge contributor to climate change". "Creative agencies should take a hard look at themselves and take responsibility as the originators of the greenwashing ideas," he said.
Mercedes-Benz, alongside its competitor BMW, are being sued by German activists for refusing to clamp down on carbon emission goals. Reuters previously reported that this is the first time German citizens have come together to sue private companies for negatively impacting climate change.
In Mercedes-Benz's 2021 Sustainability Report, the automotive maker said it wants to accelerate the pace at which it is expanding its range of electric vehicles. Between 2022 and 2026, it plans to invest about US$60.4 billion in the transformation to an emission-free and software-powered future. In this way, it is continuously expanding the portfolio of Mercedes-Benz with further models.
Additionally, Mercedes-Benz Mobility’s Green Mapping concept is also said to be helping to transform transport into electric mobility. Overall, it has a long-term climate protection goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2039. By the end of the decade, the brand wants to be all-electric wherever market conditions allow, it said in the report. According to the brand, its Ambition 2039 strategy aims not only to help make the world climate-neutral but also get its customers enthusiastic about such a climate-neutral future.
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