Over 400 spoof billboards were erected around Europe calling out the automakers’ poor environmental records
2 hours ago
by Sebastien Bell
Three climate activist groups have taken credit for hijacking over 400 billboards around Europe over the weekend, taking aim at Toyota and BMW for what they perceive as greenwashing advertising practices.
The Subvertisers’ International, Brandalism, and Extinction Rebellion took credit for the guerilla activism campaign, and say they put up the spoof billboards in France, Germany, England, and Belgium as a reaction to the increased presence of automotive advertising surrounding the start of the 100th Brussels motor show.
The billboards targeted BMW and Toyota because they were the two automakers ranked as the worst for their anti-climate lobbying efforts by InfluenceMap. Despite that, both have taken great pains to advertise their green efforts.
More: Toyota Named Third Most Obstructive Company Towards Climate Change After ExxonMobil, Chevron
Indeed, Toyota has been slow to introduce fully electric vehicles to its lineup and, in 2021, pledged to review its lobbying stance, following pressure from investors. That pressure was inspired by a report that found that Toyota was the largest corporate donor to the campaigns of Republican candidates—many of whom wanted to dismantle the country’s environmental policies—during the 2020 presidential election.
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“Toyota have pushed their ‘Beyond Zero’ sustainability adverts whilst lobbying governments around the world to weaken air quality plans and threatening legal action to protect their profits over a liveable climate,” said Tona Merriman, a spokesperson for Brandalism. “Their adverts are duplicitous.”
In addition to opposing gas-guzzling vehicles, the group objects to the sale of big SUVs, even if they’re electric. The larger vehicles, they claim, still consume heavily, present a greater danger to pedestrians, and clog up Europe’s small cities.
Ultimately, the activists are using the fake ads to call for an advertising ban on polluting vehicles. That’s a step that’s already being taken in some jurisdictions, that are applying tobacco-style advertising limitations to products that pollute. Such moves have already been taken in several U.K. councils, including Cambridgeshire, Norwich, and North Somerset, according to the BBC.
Opening Image Brandalism/Twitter