Nanny State gone too far? Toyota Hilux ad banned in UK for 'irresponsible' off-road scene

Published Nov 23, 2023


Britain's advertising watchdog has banned an advert for a Toyota Hilux 4x4 because it promoted "irresponsible behaviour" towards the environment.

The paid-for post on Facebook and poster ad for the Japanese firm's Hilux bakkie (which you can watch below the story) showed a line of bakkies driving off road in a cloud of dust before joining a tarmacked road.

A complaint was made to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) that the "Born to Roam" ad "condoned behaviour that was harmful to the environment".

The ASA upheld the complaint, despite Toyota's insistence that it was "committed to environmental change" and explaining its roll-out of hybrid and electric vehicles.

"The ads presented and condoned the use of vehicles in a manner that disregarded their impact on nature and the environment," the watchdog said in a ruling.

"As a result, they had not been prepared with a sense of responsibility to society... The ad must not appear again in the form complained of."

Furthermore, it instructed Toyota "to ensure their future marketing communications contained nothing that was likely to encourage irresponsible behaviour towards the environment."

The complaint was made by Adfree Cities, a network of groups across the UK concerned about the impacts of corporate outdoor advertising.

Adfree cities called the ruling a "landmark move" but called for regulation to go further.

"SUVs are being sold on a false promise of rugged adventure, exploiting imagery of the natural world," said co-director Veronica Wignall. "In reality, SUVs are harming nature, polluting our air, clogging up our cities and causing tragic loss of life.

"This ruling is welcome but regulation of SUV adverts is not enough; the promotion of SUVs should be terminated altogether."

Is the ruling an over-reaction? Watch the ad below:

Agence France-Presse