A visually stunning TV ad for Dutch bike company VanMoof has been banned by France’s advertising watchdog after the organisation said it created a “climate of fear” about cars.
The advertising council also said the ad unfairly discredited the car-making industry, despite being aired on Dutch and German TV.
The commercial features a shiny black car with traffic jams, flashing lights and crammed people on public transport reflected on the car, which eventually melts and transforms into VanMoof’s newest e-bike.
The French ARPP wrote in a letter to VanMoof: “Some images in the reflection of the car are, in our opinion, unbalanced and discredit the entire car sector. The images of factories/chimneys and an accident create a climate of fear. So they will have to be adapted.”
France’s advertising code forbids the use of exploiting fear and suffering in advertising.
ARPP has been accused by VanMoof for protecting the French car industry following a downturn in automotive sales amid COVID-19.
VanMoof founder Taco Carlier said he would not edit the ad to have it air in France.
“It is amazing that car companies are allowed to cover up their environmental problems while censoring those who question this issue,” he said.
“The television commercial was broadcast two weeks earlier in the Netherlands and Germany. There the spot was well received by the public. In the commercial, cars reflect the rat race of the past, inviting viewers to rethink their modes of transportation in the city for a cleaner, greener future.
“Questioning the status quo will always lead to a confrontation, but we wanted to achieve that from the beginning.”
ARPP chairman Stéphane Martin said Carlier’s criticism was “a classic response to question our independence and get media attention by shouting ‘censorship’.
He told French news channel news channel Franceinfo: “We cannot afford to put entire sectors in a bad light. That is an important precondition for fair competition. In some areas, that commercial goes too far, with images that are unnecessary, such as the smoke from factory chimneys, which have nothing to do with the car industry.”
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