I was at a meeting last week with car industry and advertising representatives, looking at ways to make advertisements for vehicles more informative about CO2 emissions. What shocked me was the firm belief by the industry that car adverts do not create demand. This is like saying smoking ads don't inspire people to smoke.
The auto industry is under attack for not doing it's part to reduce CO2 emissions from the cars they sell. A report last year proved that the majority of the industry is failing to reach their 'agreed' target to reduce CO2 emission levels by 2012. What they inevitably come back with is that they are only producing what the consumers want - namely larger, thirstier and more powerful vehicles. This unfortunately increases sales for more expensive 4x4s, which provides greater profits. They say that they have huge lots of smaller, cheaper and more fuel efficient cars but no one wants to buy them (when's the last time you saw an ad for a sexy lightweight efficient car?) And they insist they are doing their part for the environment by investing in new R&D on new cleaner biofuels. So they aren't part of the problem - they're doing their part. Right?
Well, a startling new survey by the environmental campaign group Friends of the Earth reveals that, again, most car ads in national newspapers are for gas-guzzling vehicles. They discovered that during a two-week period about 55 per cent of adverts in national newspapers were for cars in the most polluting bands E to G, which emit more than 165 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre. One has to ask - does the auto industry really want to do anything about climate change? Or are they just in the business for a quick buck.
OK - they are businesses, so they are legally obliged to provide a return to their investors. So they agreesively advertise what will make them the most profit. And selling little Micra's isn't where they will make a profit. But wouldn't you rather the 'dirty car industry' just say this outright, instead of all the greenwash stuff?
As a snub to the auto industry, the Eden Project in Cornwall is now hosting a sexy green car show. On display at the show are new cars that won't be appearing in Top Gear anytime soon.