EU plans campdown on car ads

June 5, 2008 | By | In Statistics

Adverts may soon have to carry economy and emissions details prominentlyA crackdown on car advertising could mean the introduction soon of tobacco-style ‘health’ warnings. At present, ads may include information about fuel economy and CO2 emissions, but it’s often hidden away.

But this will change under new regulations the EU is drafting. The European commission is considering a traffic light system of markings, under which most-polluting cars would carry a red warning mark, while cleaner ones would carry a green mark. Alternatively, they may use an alphabetical scale running from A-G – much like that used for washing machines and other household appliances.

It is possible that the advice panel advertisements would need to carry would occupy up to a fifth of their total space.

At present, UK guidelines allow CO2 figures to be left off where the advertising is of a ‘primarily graphical’ nature. That’s why billboard ads seldom include fuel economy or emissions figures.

Chris Davies, a Liberal Democrat MEP, supports the EU’s move and dismisses publishers’ fears that car companies will simply advertise elsewhere, a move that would badly affect print media.

‘Car companies are more interested in speed, power and a sexy image,’ said Davies. ‘If the aim is to reduce emissions, you need to change behaviour. Through its advertising, the car industry shapes market demand.’

At the same time, the UK is looking to reshape car advertising. The Department of Transport is considering new guidelines which will require emissions and economy information to appear beside branding and marketing slogans. This would change poster and magazine ads, few of which currently mention CO2 or fuel economy, except perhaps in tiny print.

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