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TfL Criticised By ASA for ‘Misleading’ Advertisement

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has criticised Transport for London and Mayor Boris Johnson after it was ruled that a print advertisement in the Evening Standard has misled Londoners over his proposals to tackle pollution with a new Ultra Low Emission Zone in the capital.

Ultra Low Emission Zone London Advertising TfL
The new ultra low emission zone will be introduced in London in 2020

The advertising watchdog found that the sentence “introducing the zone in 2020 will encourage the use of newer, cleaner vehicles to reduce vehicle pollution by half” to be misleading and deemed it a ‘breach of code.’ The ASA claimed that the sentence was likely to be interpreted by readers as referring to all types of vehicle pollution, whereas TfL’s research shows that only nitrogen oxide vehicle emissions would fall by half because of the new zone – CO2, for example, would still fall, but only by around 15%.

In short, TfL’s claim is based purely on a projected fall in exhaust emissions only, not vehicle pollution in general.

There was just one complaint made about the ad, from organisation Clean Air in London. Founder Simon Birkett said: “It is deeply troubling that the Mayor and TfL made such a seriously misleading statement in a formal advertisement that encouraged responses to the public consultation on the Mayor’s flagship policy to tackle air pollution.”

As a result, Transport for London has been told by the ASA to ensure it makes clearer claims of this nature in future advertisements. The Ultra Low Emission Zone was confirmed by the Mayor following a public consultation, and will be introduced in the capital on 7 September 2020, in the hope of encouraging the use of newer and cleaner vehicles to improve the quality of life and health of Londoners.