Peters & Peters

BMW in breach of advertising code due to misleading emissions statements in a paid-for Google ad


Key facts:

A paid-for Google advert for BMW contained the text “Zero Emission Cars… find the perfect BMW electric car… explore a range of BMW electric cars”. The ASA investigated whether the claim that BMW sold “Zero Emissions Cars” misleadingly represented the environmental impact of BMW’s cars.

In response to the complaint, BMW said that terms such as “Zero Emissions Cars” were used to target consumers who used similar search terms to find out information about battery electric vehicles. The term had been included in the advert as a result of the Google Ads automatic keyword feature, and BMW had been unaware of this until receiving the complaint. BMW confirmed that it would not use this term again and would take action to avoid similar issues arising in paid-for adverts in the future.

The ASA upheld the complaint. It held that the CAP Code required marketing communications not to materially mislead (or be likely to do so) and to make clear the basis of environmental claims. An advert featuring a “zero emissions” claim in connection with an electric vehicle would be likely to mislead if it did not make explicitly clear that it related to the reaction of the vehicle only whilst being driven.

The ASA told BMW that the advert must not appear again in its current form. It also told BMW to ensure that any future adverts referring to “zero emissions” made clear that the claim related to an electric vehicle only when it was being driven.


ASA ruling

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