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UK advertising watchdog bans Toyota ads for condoning environmentally harmful driving

UK advertising watchdog bans Toyota ads for condoning environmentally harmful driving

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The UK advertising watchdog has banned two Toyota ads for condoning environmentally harmful behaviour, after one of its ads showed vehicles driving realistically in heavily built-up urban settings. 

According to a statement by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), one of the ads, which was posted on Facebook to promote the Toyota Hilux ‘born to roam’ campaign in 2020, came with a video showing a wide open plain with mountains on either side. A number of Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) were shown moving across the landscape in unison before joining a tarmacked road, while a voiceover described the scene as “one of nature’s true spectacles”. 

Another ad that was barred by the watchdog was a poster seen at a bus stop, stating “BORN TO ROAM”, with an image showing two SUVs driving on a rocky incline in a savannah style landscape. Around 50 identical SUVs appeared in a large pack on a hilly background. 

The two ads have been removed from Toyota’s official website and social media platforms.

The watchdog ruled that the ads presented and condoned the use of vehicles in a manner that disregarded their impact on nature and the environment. As such, the watchdog ruled that they had not been prepared with a sense of responsibility to society. 

The watchdog considered that the impression given by the driving scenes and messaging in both ads was one of driving regardless of its purpose, across off-road environments and natural ecosystems which had no regard for the environmental impact of such driving. 

In response, Toyota said that the ads had been through a thorough checking process for both technical capability claims and wider generic claims for the vehicle or the brand. 

Regarding the video, Toyota said the footage of the vehicles off-road was minimal and when they appeared they were never in an environment which was ecologically sensitive or a habitat with wildlife.  

The company said the Hilux was meant for the toughest environments and certain industries had a genuine need for off-road which included specialised workers such as farmers, forestry workers and park rangers.   

In terms of the poster ad, the company said the image had been created completely by computer generated imagery (CGI) and so caused no damage to the natural environment. It understood the image would be seen as similar to a herd of wildebeests and therefore fantastical. 

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE has reached out to Toyota for a statement. 

Don't miss: Advertising watchdog takes down Hyundai and Toyota's electric car ads over misleading claims

Back in June, ASA banned campaigns by both Toyota and Hyundai for exaggerating the charging speed of their electric cars and misleading consumers about how many rapid-charging points were available in the region. 

In the affected Toyota ad, which was seen on its website in March 2022, the car brand featured its bZ4X model, an electric vehicle. One section of text stated, “Making electric easy…Three charging options offer flexibility – use rapid public charging to reach 80% charge in around 30 minutes with a 150 kW fast-charging system, charge through a fast-charging wall box which can be installed at home or plug into a socket at home”, said ASA.

(Photo courtesy: William

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Advertising watchdog takes down Hyundai and Toyota's electric car ads over misleading claims
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