GM's Alternate Reality: UK Calls Volt/Ampera Ad Misleading, Bans It
You can see this ad. Television viewers in the UK can’t. The Chevrolet Volt is sold in the UK as the Vauxhall Ampera, and its ad has been banned by the UK Advertising Standards Authority. It says the ad is misleading. The ad claims a 360-mile range. GM is a serial offender when it comes to alternate realities, and this ad is the latest installment.
“The real range of the electric batteries in the Vauxhall Ampera is a rather more modest 50 miles. And to go beyond that, it relies on help from a somewhat less green source – a petrol engine.”
The ad, created by long-time GM agency McCann Erickson, came complete with the usually hard to read and even harder to comprehend disclaimer:
“Comparison based on electric vehicles and extended range electric vehicles driven electrically at all times, even when an additional power source is generating electricity”.
The advertising standards bureau did not buy into it. Says the ruling:
“We considered that throughout the ad the emphasis was on the fact that the car was being driven electrically, and that most viewers would not understand that the car was in some circumstances being powered by electricity generated with a petrol engine. The ad promoted an innovative product which many viewers would not immediately understand and we therefore considered that it would need to explicitly state that the car had a petrol engine. Because it did not clearly explain how the vehicle worked in extended-range mode, we concluded that the ad was misleading.”
The ASA does not parse an ad through the eyes of a lawyer, or through the eyes of GM apologists and amateur spinmeisters. The ASA sees it through the eyes of the ad’s target, the average consumer. That consumer is being fooled. Using imagery of plugs and cables, and the slogan “Driving electricity further”, the ad pushes electric range, and that range simply isn’t 360 miles on pure electricity.
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