FirstBus low emissions claim found misleading by the ASA
A TV ad for FirstBus, featuring the words ‘We love low emissions’, with the word ‘live’ symbolised by an image of a love-heart, has been banned by the ASA for being misleading.
A complaint was made that the ad, which showed a bus with a poster on the back of it and featured the text ‘Our buses produce 4.97% less carbon than conventional diesel buses’.
A complainant challenged whether the ads were misleading, because he understood that the Department for Transport (DfT) considered a low carbon emission bus to be one that produced 30% less carbon than conventional diesel buses.
FirstGroup said it believed the complainant had misinterpreted the ads, because they did not refer to low emission buses specifically but to low emissions. It said the claim referred to their corporate aims and their commitment to making demonstrable improvements to emissions through a range of initiatives, including new vehicle technology and driver training and monitoring.
Clearcast said the DfT's definition of a low carbon emission bus was for the Department's own internal purposes, and was irrelevant to the claim in the ad.
The ASA noted that the DfT's definition of a low carbon bus was a definition produced for their own purposes, namely government emissions targets, but considered most viewers would expect the definition of "low emissions" in a transport ad to be in line with the DfT's definition. It therefore concluded the ads were misleading.