In a milestone decision, the British Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) prohibited Toyota's "Born To Roam" ads citing concerns about promoting off-road driving.
This ruling represents the ASA's first action against an automotive brand on environmental grounds.
It reflects the ASA's heightened scrutiny of environmental messaging, even when the content is not inherently misleading.
At the same time, it aligns with the ASA's commitment to the Climate Change and Environment Project launched in September 2021, supporting the UK's climate goals to reduce emissions by 78% by 2035 compared to the 1990 levels.
Toyota's ads showcase Hilux SUVs navigating diverse terrains. While Toyota contends that the fantastical scenes don't endorse off-road driving, the ASA disagrees.
Instances where fantastical elements diminish make it more likely for viewers to interpret the ads as endorsing unnecessary off-road use.
Despite Toyota's claim that the Hilux targets consumers and businesses with genuine off-road needs, the ASA argues the ad doesn't accurately depict such scenarios, rendering users "unidentifiable."
The ruling states the ads "presented and condoned vehicle use that disregarded their impact on nature," lacking a sense of responsibility to society.
As a result, the ASA prohibited the ads in their contested form.
The regulatory body maintains its focus on environmental issues, emphasizing accurate and honest green claims in advertisements. Last year, the ASA's educational campaign contributed to an 80% increase in trust in the advertising industry among exposed individuals.