“Consider carpooling”, “prefer cycling” … why you will soon see these messages on car ads


Can automobile advertising, queen of screens and streets, encourage consumers to pollute less? It is the bet of France which will attach to it from 2022 messages in favor of walking and cycling.

From March 1, 2022, warnings will be presented on the same model as messages of the type “Avoid eating too fatty, too sweet, too salty”, imposed since 2007 in advertisements for manufactured food products and sugary drinks.

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Builders have two months to add one of the following three messages to their advertisements: “For short journeys, prefer walking or cycling”, “Consider carpooling” Where “On a daily basis, take public transport”, according to a decree of the Ministry of Ecological Transition published this Wednesday, December 29.

Environmentalists expect more

This measure was imagined in 2020 as a minimum alternative to what environmental NGOs have been asking for for years, namely the ban on advertising for all cars, which represent a significant share of CO2 emissions in the transport sector.

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Advertisements for the most polluting vehicles (more than 123 grams of CO2 / km) will be completely banned from 2028, in order to prepare consumers for the end of the thermal engine proposed by the European Commission for 2035.

The French citizens gathered in the Citizen’s Convention for the Climate had proposed for their part to ban advertising for vehicles consuming more than 4 liters per 100 kilometers and / or emitting more than 95 grams of CO2 / km.

The sequel after the advertisement

Automotive sector in difficulty

In March 2022, the new obligation will apply to all media and will be accompanied by the mention “# MoveLessPollute”. In the event of failure, the advertiser is exposed to a formal notice and then to a financial penalty of up to 50,000 euros per broadcast.

This measure preserves the automotive sector which is going through a difficult period with the pandemic, the unprecedented shortage of electronic chips and a forced march towards electricity which requires heavy investments.

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A ban would also have represented billions of euros in lost earnings for the media: the sector remains the second largest advertiser in France, behind mass distribution.

“No distinction between engines”

“I take note, we will adapt. Having zero emissions mobility solutions is the meaning of history ”Hyundai CEO Lionel French Keogh told AFP. “But there is a paradox: there is no distinction between the engines. It’s a bit counterproductive in relation to the government’s desire to push sales of electricity ”.

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“I find that a little disempowering. And that stigmatizes the automobile ”, continued the leader of the Korean manufacturer who is resisting the crisis in France with its sales of SUVs. “That means that overall, we have to find alternatives to the automobile. This is the first time that we have had a fairly direct message from the government. But if I make a short trip that passes by a national road, I will not do it on foot or by bicycle ”.

“We will comply with the legislation and will analyze with our advertising agency the means to comply with it from its date of application”, indicated for its part the Volkswagen group, third seller in France after Stellantis and Renault.

Targeted SUVs

These messages will appear under advertisements that often promote the kings of the world market: SUVs. On average, heavier and polluting, they represent 42% of brand advertising investments in France, according to a WWF study published in April. The environmental association then asked the government to “Redirect the vehicle fleet and advertising towards vehicles of the future, lighter and less emitting”.

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At European level, car advertisements must already indicate fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. Imposed in 2001, these mentions (tiny) had the merit of informing buyers but they can be improved, according to the European Commission.

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In a May report, the Commission’s Directorate-General for Climate Action proposed in particular to display all air pollutants, beyond just CO2, as well as electric range and the cost of using vehicles. which favors electrics despite their high purchase cost.



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