Reports have revealed that the French government has confirmed plans to introduce new rules for advertisements promoting car sales, with an ecological twist. The nation is a famous automotive producer, with many long-standing makes hailing from our European neighbours. Household names like Renault, Peugeot and Citroen make up a large portion of the vehicles we see here in the UK and the same is true in many nations overseas.
Global society has steadily become more and more environmentally conscious, and even at a household level people are generally thinking more about the little changes we can make to reduce our impact. Large companies therefore are beginning to take even greater responsibility than this, owing to the deep and far-reaching impact their operations can have on the environment, even outside of their countries of origin.
The motor industry in particular has seen some of the most dramatic changes, with it being no secret that most manufacturers are investing billions into producing electric and hybrid vehicles. The new legislation laid out in France is yet another step towards establishing a greater sense of social responsibility in the industry – by discouraging driving in favour of alternative travel.
Why is France Changing the Law for Car Adverts?
France is a G7 nation, alongside the UK, USA, Japan, Germany, Italy and the EU. This means they face greater scrutiny when it comes to driving environmental change, as the nations can collectively hold each other accountable for their greenhouse emissions. Having pledged along with the other member states to actively reduce said emissions, France has most recently targeted the motor industry.
The new rules are designed to encourage consumers to change their mindset and consider alternative methods of travel rather than relying on private cars every single day. An unsurprising move considering that a quarter of the EU’s collective greenhouse gasses are caused by transportation. More specifically, 15% of France’s emissions are produced by private cars.
France has already taken, like other countries, a number of steps to reduce it’s carbon footprint. Including banning short flights, enforcing waste-free packaging for goods, and introducing more vegetarian meals into schools. When it comes to motoring, French cities with 150,000 residents or more now have low-emission zones, with speed restrictions and a total ban on high emission vehicles to follow by 2025. Not to mention the government’s intent to ban petrol and diesel cars by 2040 in favour of electric alternatives.
The new legislation for vehicle ads is just the latest step in this initiative, however leaders have acknowledged that hearts and minds must be won over in addition to simply banning all but electric cars for impactful change to take place.
“Decarbonizing transport is not just switching to electric vehicles. It also means using, when possible, public transport or cycling” said Barbara Pompili, the French minister for The Ecological Transition of France. “The legislation is part of a wider effort to change the mindset of people and make them more accountable for the way they travel.”
What are the New Rules for French Car Ads?
From as soon as the 1st of March, French car manufacturers must make sure at least one of three approved messages are included in any advertisements they produce. Roughly translated, these statements are: “For short journeys, walk or cycle”, “Think about carpooling”, and “For day-to-day use, take public transport”.
If printed or shown on television or digital screens, one of these messages must be clearly visible. If the advert is to be broadcast via radio services, then the message must be spoken aloud at the end of the ad. Beyond this, in certain contexts the ads must also feature the hashtag #SeDéplacerMoinsPolluer, which translates to #MoveWithoutPollution. Any car company found to not be following these rules will face steep fines, as much as €50,000.
Will Similar Tactics to Cigarettes and Alcohol Work on Car Buyers?
It has been a subject of debate as to whether deterrent messaging is truly effective in curtailing consumer behaviour. We have seen increasingly stark warnings be applied to both tobacco and alcohol products, including vaping devices and e-liquids in recent years, and while national smoking rates have fallen, credit cannot be solely attributed to the messages on the packaging.
In the UK we have recently seen legislature proposed to further increase the deterrent messaging featured on cigarettes, calling for smoking kills to be printed on every cig. This example alone was not without criticism, with many people feeling that despite what experts think, messaging will only go so far in actually achieving the various gaols laid out by government – achieving a smoke free generation by 2030 in this case.
France of course is attempting to reduce it’s greenhouse emission, which is a separate issue to the prevalence of smoking, however similar tactics are being used. We at LiQuid believe it is a good thing to see an increasingly strong green movement taking shape, and so long as personal freedoms are not too starkly restricted, the new messaging for French vehicles ads is a justifiable step towards their national decarbonisation.
We have even made our own green efforts official in the form of our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policy, in an effort to show our customers that we are holding ourselves accountable for our carbon footprint, and are constantly looking to reduce it. We hope this inspires greater trust in our brand from our community, and it may be the case that French car manufacturers see the same benefit by adopting green messaging into their promotions, albeit by law.
As fellow members of G7, it would not be too out-there to assume that if France finds success with this initiative, we may see similar messaging adopted into car ads here in the UK – how would that make you feel? Do you think it would help to change your mind, or is stronger action required to cut transport emissions long-term?