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E-bike advert banned as it 'discredits entire car sector'

VanMoof's latest advert was so effective French authorities have pulled it from screens

Joe Robinson
2 Jul 2020

If you manage to get your advertisement banned, there is a chance that you have got its message spot on.

At least that is how Dutch bike manufacturer VanMoof will see it after its latest advert was banned by French authorities as it 'discredits the entire car industry'.

The French advertising authorities, Autorité de Régulaion Professionelle de la Publicité (ARPP), has pulled the advert claiming it creates a 'climate of fear' around the car industry.

The short advert shines a light on the congestion and air pollution caused by motor vehicles presenting VanMoof's e-bikes as a solution.

In the ad, a new, slick-looking car has images of oil refineries, factories and congested streets projected onto its body. The car then melts away to be replaced by a VanMoof bike and the tagline 'Time to Ride the Future'.

On pulling the advert from French television, the ARPP justified its decision to VanMoof in a letter.

'Some images in the reflection of the car are, in our opinion, unbalanced and discredit the entire car sector. The images of factories/chimneys and an accident create a climate of fear so they will have to be adapted.'

The advert (above), which is still being aired in the Netherlands and Germany, was created by VanMoof to help launch its brand-new S3 and X3 e-bikes, which are retailing for €1,800.

VanMoof's founder Ties Carlier responded to the decision by calling it censorship.

'It’s puzzling that car companies are allowed to gloss over their environmental problems, but when someone challenges that situation it gets censored.'

This prompted a fiery response from ARPP president Stéphane Martin who told France Info, 'We cannot afford to put entire sectors in a bad light. That is an important precondition for fair competition.

'In some areas, that commercial goes too far, with images that are unnecessary, such as the smoke from factory chimneys, which have nothing to do with the car industry.'

The big elephant in the room here is that the French government has a long history with its automotive business, which has seen companies like Renault, Peugeot and Citroen take state subsidies while also hiring a huge chunk of the French workforce and driving billions in car sale revenue.

This decision appears to have been made in the knowledge that the car industry is still a big part of the French economy.

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