Brandalism slams Toyota and BMW for greenwashing in latest guerrilla billboard campaign


Activist group Subvertising has hijacked billboards across Europe to target the car industry for misleading advertising.

Brandalism took control of 400 billboards and bus shelters in Belgium, France, Germany and England this weekend as the European Motor Show opened its doors in Brussels for its 100th anniversary.

In the past, brandalism has targeted the banks and aviation sectors for its greenwashing activities, but this time the group says its intention is to highlight the misleading ads and aggressive lobbying tactics used by the auto industry — Toyota and BMW in particular.

In 2022, Toyota ranked 10th Worst company in the world by InfluenceMap for its anti-climate lobbying (the worst ranking of any automaker), while BMW ranks 16th overall (the second worst car brand).

Despite advertising from Toyota and BMW emphasizing their electric vehicle (EV) reach, both are still investing heavily in sales of polluting internal combustion engine vehicles. According to a report by Greenpeace Asia, Only 0.2% of cars sold by Toyota in 2021 were electric vehicles.

The posters themselves were put up by climate activists from the groups Subvertisers International, Brandalism and Extinction Rebellion on bus stops, billboards and subway billboards in London, Berlin, Frankfurt, Paris, Nantes, Brussels, Liege, Bristol, Derby and other European cities.

Created by artists including Lindsay Grime, Michelle Tylicki, Merny Wernz, Fokawolf, Matt Bonner and Darren Cullen, the ads feature images of highly polluting Toyota and BMW vehicles such as the Toyota Land Cruiser and the BMW X5 and X7 SUVs.

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Activists are using the campaign to demand stricter guidelines from governments to regulate the advertising of polluting products and prevent misleading green claims by big polluters.

The pan-European action comes at a time when the idea of ​​introducing tobacco-style advertising bans for climate-damaging products like fossil fuels and SUVs is gaining momentum internationally. In France, for example, car advertising now requires a caveat that encourages consumers to walk, cycle or use public transport where possible under a new regulation due to come into force in March 2022.

Ahead of a UK ban on sales of petrol and diesel cars by 2030 and hybrids by 2035, activists are calling for an immediate end to the advertising of the most polluting vehicles – especially SUVs. Activists from Adfree Cities (UK), Badvertising (UK), Résistance Ó l’Agression Publicitaire (France), Climóximo (Portugal), Greenpeace International and 35 other organizations are calling for legislation to end advertising of carbon-intensive advertising products.

Tona Merrimen, a spokeswoman for Brandalism, says: “Toyota and BMW are using clever marketing campaigns to promote oversized SUV models that are clogging urban neighborhoods. Electric SUVs are not a solution – they are too large for most parking spaces, and their large bumper size and excessive weight pose an increased risk to pedestrians, particularly children, involved in road collisions.”

The drum reached out to Toyota and BMW for comment, but had received no response at the time of publication.



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