A so-called ‘brandalism’ campaign targeting two of the biggest car companies in the world has hit Reading.
Activists throughout Europe have plastered fake advertising in cities in towns accusing Toyota and BMW of misleading adverts and spuriously trumping up their messages to clamp down on climate change.
Fake adverts seen at bus stops in Reading show a Toyota SUV amongst damned souls in hell, and BMW cars emitting fumes amongst test dummies with the slogan ‘when we test our emissions, the test dummy is you.’
The posters have been put up as part of a Europe-wide campaign by Extinction Rebellion, Subvertisers’ International and Brandalism.
The groups have cited research from the InfluenceMap climate think tank which concluded that Toyota is ‘the 10th worst company in the world’ for anti-climate lobbying, the worst of any car manufacturer, followed by BMW who ranked 16th overall.
The activists have also criticised both companies’ ‘slick’ advertising for electric vehicles (EVs) despite a miserly 0.2 per cent of cars being sold by Toyota being EVs in 2021.
Tona Merrimen, a spokesperson for Brandalism, said: “Toyota and BMW use slick marketing campaigns to promote over-sized SUV models that clog up urban neighbourhoods.
“Electric SUVs are no solution – they’re too big for most parking spaces and their tall bumper size and excessive weight present an increased risk to pedestrians, especially children, involved in road collisions.”
Responding to the campaign, a spokesperson for BMW said: “Sustainability is a central part of the BMW Group’s corporate strategy.
“The BMW Group is firmly committed to achieving climate neutrality by 2050 and we are adopting a scientifically validated and transparent path through the entire value chain.
“BMW was one of the first automotive brands to bring a mainstream electric vehicle to market in 2013 with the BMW i3 and by 2030, at least 50 per cent of our global sales will be fully electric.
“In the short term, the company is taking steps today to reduce the total carbon footprint of our products by 40 per cent throughout their lifecycle by 2030 compared with 2019 levels.
“As the first German carmaker to join the ‘Business Ambition for 1.5°C’ and a member of the UN’s Race to Zero programme, we believe in action and continued dialogue.”
We have contacted Toyota but no one has been available to comment.
The posters have gone up on bus stop advertising boards owned by JCDeCaux, with the posters being unauthorised by the company.
A spokesperson for JC DeCaux said: “This is flyposting and not paid-for advertising and our teams will be taking this down.”