GM's Alternate Reality: UK Calls Volt/Ampera Ad Misleading, Bans It

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

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.

Says the Daily Mail:

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.

Bertel Schmitt
Bertel Schmitt

Bertel Schmitt comes back to journalism after taking a 35 year break in advertising and marketing. He ran and owned advertising agencies in Duesseldorf, Germany, and New York City. Volkswagen A.G. was Bertel's most important corporate account. Schmitt's advertising and marketing career touched many corners of the industry with a special focus on automotive products and services. Since 2004, he lives in Japan and China with his wife <a href="http://www.tomokoandbertel.com"> Tomoko </a>. Bertel Schmitt is a founding board member of the <a href="http://www.offshoresuperseries.com"> Offshore Super Series </a>, an American offshore powerboat racing organization. He is co-owner of the racing team Typhoon.

More by Bertel Schmitt

Comments
Join the conversation
2 of 63 comments
  • Wmba Wmba on Aug 23, 2012

    Well, don't know how but I somehow got two for one on that previous post, and a couple of spelling errors to boot. Well, I'm not being paid to be perfect, and on TTAC, bad proof-reading is the norm!

  • Inddirect Inddirect on Aug 24, 2012

    Had an '81 Citation as my first car, way back in the malaise era. Enough GM for a lifetime, for me!

  • Lou_BC Ironic, the Honda Ridgeline, a truck that every truck guy loves to hate is in 6th place.
  • 28-Cars-Later I keep forgetting I own it, but the space look on the ext cab reminds me of my 'Yota pickup of the same model year. I'm pretty sure there is some vintage of Hilux which features the same looking ext cab window (maybe '88?) its a shame these things are mostly gone and when available are $1,000,000,000 [INSERT CURRENT CURRENCY].
  • Sayahh Imagine if Ford had Toyota design and build a Mustang engine. It will last over 300k miles! (Skip turbo and make it naturally aspirated.) Maybe Yamaha will help tune it...
  • Sobhuza Trooper Isuzu's crime was to build some damn good trucks.Shame on them.
  • El scotto Listen, unless you were Lord Headly-Stempmoor or such when you got off the off the boat, boot in Canada, you got the short end of the stick. People got on the boat, these days a plane, to escape famine, becoming cannon fodder in yet another stupid war, or the government thought it was A-OK to let soldiers kill you. Juneteenth is just a way to right one of the more bad ideas in the American experiment. Instead we have commenters who were buying tater chips and diet soda at Wal-Mart and got all butt-hurt because they heard someone who wasn't speaking English. I'm going to go fix a couple of frankfurters with salsa and guacamole and wash them down with a lager or three
Next