Should we stop car advertising?

Indeed, orders increased massively during the Super Bowl, even though Tesla does not advertise! The brand was therefore not shy to reveal in its slideshow of results that the day after the Super Bowl, orders exploded while Tesla did not spend a single dollar on car advertising.

Which means people looked at the ads for competing cars and thought “No, I’ll take a Tesla”! A real slap in the face for other car manufacturers… And that raises questions for the more general use of economic advertising, especially for polluting vehicles.

To note : From March 1, 2022, advertising for new passenger cars will be subject to new legal constraints.

Towards a ban on advertising for the most polluting cars?

Not so long ago, in 2018, sales of combustion engine vehicles increased, according to figures from Ademe. MEPs have directly pointed the finger at the harmful effects of the advertising campaigns carried out by car brands. As a reminder, this same year, two deputies had tabled an amendment in the National Assembly to request a ban on advertising for the most polluting vehicles from 2020.

As of January 1, 2020, all advertising relating to private vehicles whose carbon dioxide emissions are greater than 60 grams per kilometer is prohibited. », mentions the text. To get an idea, this description immediately penalizes all thermal engine vehicles that are not hybrids, i.e. almost the entire French car fleet, since the latter represent only 3.9% of market share, according to an analysis by the Committee of French Automobile Manufacturers (CCFA).

The objective was at least to launch the debate and seek solutions. This vision was based in particular on a report by the French Environment and Energy Management Agency (ADEME). Almost 4 years ago, it noted an increase in CO2 emissions from new vehicles sold in France since 2017. SUVs (Sport Utility Vehicles) won the prize for the best-selling cars, representing 36% of total sales. Problem: these heavy vehicles are particularly polluting.

A new vehicle = 1,500 euros in advertising

A lever that weighs very heavily, since automobile advertising alone represents 3.5 billion euros per year. It’s 10% of the total advertising market, in second place behind distribution. For Marie Chéron, mobility manager at the Nicolas Hulot Foundation, who worked on the text: “ For each vehicle sold today, 1,500 euros finance advertising » .

The idea is not to prohibit, but to redirect these means towards more virtuous vehicles. At the time, for the deputy Matthieu Orphelin, we had just lost ten years of technical progress. And that may still be the case because ” Any gains made on engines are being negated by the fact that people are buying more and more SUVs. In our current model of society, advertising is a huge lever to make people want to buy “.

A mention on each ad automotive

For Stéphane Martin, director general of the Professional Advertising Regulatory Authority (ARPP), the deputies were doing it wrong by proposing an “opportunistic” text. ” The problem is taken upside down : there is first of all work to be done with the whole of the industry. Advertising is only the end result, it only comes when there are products or services to market. We must stop thinking that because we stop advertising, the products will not be marketed “, he argued.

What is worrying is that there is no evaluation, no impact measurement whatsoever. What mobility should be replaced after the car? When you are Parisian, there is the metro, but it is not France. There is also a need for transport “, regretted Stéphane Martin. ” Nor have they evaluated the effects that this may have on manufacturers, on newspapers, for which this type of advertising is an important resource, on the effectiveness vis-à-vis consumers. »

At the time, same opposition from Elisabeth Borne, Minister of Transport, who blocked the way to the introduction of such a measure: ” We adopted an amendment which says that each time we advertise a car, we must convey a message to encourage public transport, active mobility, such as cycling. It’s better “, she pleaded.

An Evin law for polluting cars mentioned

A necessary reflection, believes Marie Chéron. It draws a parallel with the Evin law, which strictly regulates advertising around tobacco and alcoholic beverages. We passed the Evin law thirty years ago for public health reasons. Today, we have 67,000 deaths a year due to air pollution. Policy coherence is needed. » A law on this model is expected…

One of the proposals adopted by the Citizens’ Climate Convention

And precisely, one of the proposals adopted by the Citizen’s Climate Convention after several months of reflection offers to ” effectively and effectively prohibit the advertising of products that emit the most GHGs [gaz à effet serre, NDLR]on all advertising media “. But the examination of the bill was interrupted by the health crisis. Consumers seem ready. In a BVA poll carried out for the NGO Greenpeace in June, 65% of those questioned said they were in favor of a ban on advertising for brands that contribute the most to climate change such as planes, cars, airlines, etc.

But the difficulty of transposing the Evin law to polluting products is real. Note that if ” Tobacco is a product that is widely identified, widespread and whose effect in terms of public health is proven and very costly for society », delimit the products that would be concerned by the ban announces more complex.

The report submitted to ministers in 2019 therefore rejected the idea of ​​a ban, except for products destined to disappear by a certain deadline, such as diesel cars. The state says it prefers the introduction of “climate information” during campaigns. But for NGOs, the legal notices as we already find in food or energy campaigns – “energy is our future, let’s save it” – are not effective.

Since March 2022, two new bonds

The measures that will soon come into force were provided for by the LOM law on mobility dated December 24, 2019. These measures have just been implemented, two years later, by decree published in the Official Journal of December 29. A decree that has two main provisions:

Promoting other forms of mobility

From March 1, 2022, all advertising for a new car must include a statement promoting the active mobilityi.e. requiring human strength (mainly walking or cycling), or shared mobility (carpooling or carsharing) or even public transport. To this end, one of the following 3 mentions must be present in the advertisement: “For short journeys, favor walking or cycling” Where “Consider carpooling” or “On a daily basis, take public transport”. The advertisement must also include the mention #MovingLessPolluting.

In the event of non-compliance with this obligation, the advertiser will receive a formal notice and risk a fine up to €50,000 in the event of non-regularization. The fine may be increased to €100,000 in the event of a repeat offence. It should be noted that the facts will however be prescribed after 3 years and that the fines will only be incurred from June 1, 2022.

Mention of dioxide emissions

From June 1, 2022, all advertising for a passenger car must also mention the carbon dioxide emissions rate. This provision comes from the Climate Law adopted last August.

As a reminder, since the European Directive of December 13, 1999, automobile advertising must specify the vehicle’s consumption in liters per 100 km and the CO2 emissions in grams for one kilometer. Finally, at the point of sale, the energy label is mandatory for new vehicles on display. In the end, automobile advertising is becoming one of the most regulated sectors.

A big shortfall for advertising agencies

It remains to measure the economic impact of such a ban on these advertisements which bring big profits to the advertising agencies. In the report “Advertising and ecological transition” submitted to ministers in 2019, the authors recall that “advertising contributes to the financing of the media” up to a third for the written press, and up to 50% for television and radio. Many of them, ” in a fragile position with the digital explosion, owe their survival to advertising revenue”.

And the polluting industries targeted by the ban measures account for a large share of these advertising revenues. In 2019, according to Greenpeace, Climate Action Network and Resistance to Advertising Aggression, car manufacturers and the air and oil sectors spent 5.1 billion euros on communication in France. The PSA Peugeot Citroën group alone spent 1.7 billion euros, including 915 million on advertising.

It’s not easy for advertising agencies to get rid of these heavyweight advertisers, just behind mass distribution, the biggest advertiser in France. Interviewed on the show The earth squared on France Inter on the discrepancy between the editorial line of the station and the car advertisements which are broadcast there, the director of the advertising department of Radio France explains that car manufacturers weigh nearly 30% of the market on the antennas of the public group .

across the Channel, the british newspaper The Guardian took the plunge at the start of the year, announcing no longer accept advertisements from companies “involved in the extraction of non-renewable resources”.

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