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21 February 2024, 10:46

ASA Clears Ford’s "Zero-Emissions Driving" Claim in All-Electric Explorer Ad

ASA Clears Ford’s "Zero-Emissions Driving" Claim in All-Electric Explorer Ad

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has concluded its investigation into a Ford Motor Company Ltd advertisement, finding that the claim "Zero-emissions driving" for the All-Electric Explorer SUV does not mislead consumers about the vehicle's environmental impact. This ruling is part of a broader initiative examining 'zero-emissions' claims, utilizing AI through the ASA's Active Ad Monitoring system to identify online advertisements that may contravene regulations.

The disputed advertisement, a paid Google ad spotted on August 16, 2023, promoted the new All-Electric Explorer with phrases highlighting its adventure redefining capabilities and all-electric benefits. The ad boasted of "Zero-emissions driving," alongside mentions of fast charging and driver assistance technologies, which led to the ASA's scrutiny over potential misleading environmental impact representations.

Ford responded to the challenge by clarifying that the phrase “Zero-emissions driving” was deliberately chosen to imply emissions during the operation of the vehicle only, not encompassing its entire lifecycle, including production and maintenance. The company argued that this specific context within the ad, coupled with additional mentions of the vehicle's features, clearly delineated the scope of the 'zero-emissions' claim to driving only.

Moreover, Ford noted that the target audience, actively searching for the All-Electric Explorer, would inherently understand the distinction between "zero-emissions driving" and the broader environmental implications of vehicle ownership. Despite this defense, Ford committed to refining future advertisements for clarity, opting for the revised phrase “Zero-emissions while driving.”

Upon review, the ASA determined that the advertisement did not breach the CAP Code, which mandates marketing communications to avoid misleading presentations of material information. The decision hinged on the understanding that battery electric vehicles, like the All-Electric Explorer, produce no emissions during operation, contrasting with combustion engine vehicles. However, the ASA acknowledged that electric vehicles do generate emissions during production, disposal, and charging via the national grid.

The ASA concluded that the context of the advertisement, particularly with the immediate follow-up of features like “Fast charging” and “Driver Assistance Tech,” effectively communicated that the "Zero-emissions driving" claim pertained specifically to the vehicle's operational phase. Therefore, the ad was deemed unlikely to mislead consumers regarding the SUV’s overall environmental impact.

This ruling underscores the importance of precise language in advertising, especially concerning environmental claims, and reflects the ASA's ongoing commitment to ensuring transparent and truthful marketing practices.

Notes to the editor

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