A climate of anxiety and trouble in the French automotive industry means successful European ad is first bike commercial to ever be banned from air
VanMoof’s first television spot, which was created by Builder’s Club, has been banned from TV in France due to it “creating a climate of anxiety”. It’s the first time a bike commercial has been banned from airing. In the film, cars reflect the rat race of the past, inviting the viewer to reconsider city mobility for a cleaner, greener future. The commercial was rejected by France’s advertising regulatory authority, ARPP.
The television commercial comes at a time when demand for electric bikes is at an all-time high and cities are transforming day-to-day. With the film, VanMoof wants to inspire people to rethink the way they move, and show how they can positively affect the world they live in.
Taco Carlier, co-founder VanMoof comments: “We were always aware that this commercial isn’t your usual bike ad. It’s really a call to action, a chance to leave the past behind, and make real progress that benefits everyone. Questioning the status quo will always be confrontational, but that was our purpose from the start.”
The secondary purpose of the film is to highlight the launch of Vanmoof’s new generation of smart e-bikes, the VanMoof S3 & X3. This represents a turning point for the bike-meets-tech-company, as they are not only the most advanced e-bikes the company has ever produced, but also the most accessible – costing €1998. Vanmoof’s long-term goal is to fully democratize cycling, and ultimately get the next billion on bikes.
VanMoof was informed of the rejection in a letter from the Autorité de Régulation Professionnelle de la Publicité (ARPP), a self-regulatory organisation supported by the private sector. According to the ARPP, certain shots of the car's reflections “discredit the automobile sector [...] while creating a climate of anxiety.” It is notable that the ARPP rejected what would have been one of the first bike ads on French TV, despite recently pledging to reinforce the sustainability aspects of their policies.
It’s not the first time ARPP has been linked to controversy. The organisation has been previously called out for a lack of neutrality by NGOs such as Greenpeace and Médecins du Monde.
Ties Carlier, co-founder VanMoof, says: "It’s puzzling that car companies are allowed to gloss over their environmental problems, but when someone challenges that situation it gets censored."
The television commercial aired two weeks prior in The Netherlands and Germany. The spot was well received by the public, even in Germany, where the automotive industry represents over €400 billion annually.
The decision comes at a time when the French car industry is in trouble, with sales plummeting due to COVID-19 and widespread economic decline on the horizon. In a bid to support the sector – responsible for almost a third of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions – the government recently introduced a recovery plan worth €8 billion. At the same time, social distancing measures are fuelling demand for high quality e-bikes. With bikes seen as an increasingly dependable mobility option compared to public transport, Paris city planners have launched new cycling initiatives, and dedicated €300 million for cycling infrastructure.