Toyota: Hilux SUV ads banned for encouraging off-road driving ‘with no regard for environment'

The Advertising Standards Authority has ruled the ads, which show the SUVs driving across rugged terrain, can not be shown again
 One of the now-banned Toyota ads (PA Wire/Supplied) One of the now-banned Toyota ads (PA Wire/Supplied)
One of the now-banned Toyota ads (PA Wire/Supplied)

Toyota Hilux ads which showed the SUVs being driven though plains and river beds have been banned - for encouraging off-roading without any regard for the impact it could have on the environment.

Campaign group Adfree Cities made the initial complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), saying that the Toyota Ads were irresponsible for condoning behaviour that was harmful to the environment. The watchdog agreed and ruled that two ads - a Facebook video and and a series of posters - which show “driving regardless of its purpose, across off-road environments and natural ecosystems which had no regard for the environmental impact”, must not appear again.

“The ads presented and condoned the use of vehicles in a manner that disregarded their impact on nature and the environment," the ASA added. “As a result, they had not been prepared with a sense of responsibility to society.”

The Facebook video featured a number of the vehicles travelling together across an open plain with mountains either side, and over a river bed before joining a road, PA reports. A voiceover said, “One of nature’s true spectacles,” and “Toyota Hilux. Born to Roam,” before a final shot showed the car parked in a rocky, natural environment. The poster, seen at bus stops, also stated “Born to Roam”, and featured two SUVs driving on a rocky incline in a savannah-style landscape, with around 50 identical vehicles being driven in the background.

Toyota argued the video was filmed in Slovenia on private land with permission, and the use of multiple vehicles was “clearly fantastical” and would prevent consumers emulating the ad and driving in large numbers in the wild. A spokesperson said the company believed no reasonable viewer would have understood the ad as encouraging UK consumers to drive irresponsibly in the countryside, and the poster itself was CGI - and caused no actual damage to the environment.

Upon hearing ASA's judgment, Adfree Cities co-director Veronica Wignall told PA: “More and more SUVs are being sold on a false promise of rugged adventure, exploiting imagery of the natural world. In reality, SUVs are harming nature, polluting our air, clogging up our cities and causing tragic loss of life," she continued. "This ruling is welcome but regulation of SUV adverts is not enough; the promotion of SUVs should be terminated altogether.”

A spokesperson for Toyota said the company does not condone behaviour that is harmful to the environment. “In fact, over the course of the past three decades, not only has Toyota been one of the leaders in the automotive field in terms of carbon emissions reduction across its vehicle offering, it has shared hundreds of royalty free licences, allowing others to use its electrification technology."

As part of its wide range of global vehicle offerings, Toyota also catered for customers who needed a reliable vehicle to use in harsh terrains, they said. “The vehicle footage in this instance was obtained in a non-UK location, on private land, with all necessary permissions, in a non-ecologically sensitive environment. The static image used in the display ad was CGI, having no environmental impact on that land.”

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