A TV ad for the Vauxhall Corsa, seen in January 2021, ended with the on-screen statement “British Brand since 1903”.
IssueFour complainants, who noted that Vauxhall was owned by the French PSA Group and had previously been owned by the American company General Motors, challenged whether the claim “British Brand since 1903” was misleading.
Vauxhall Motors Ltd stated that the Vauxhall brand was a trademark owned by Vauxhall Motors Ltd, a UK-registered entity, and Vauxhall branded vehicles were sold exclusively in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Vauxhall had always built vehicles in Britain. They said the fact that Vauxhall’s parent company, Stellantis NV was neither British nor based in the UK did not change the fact that Vauxhall was a British brand.
Clearcast stated that consumers considering Vauxhall as a British brand could see a case of successive owners maintaining the Vauxhall operation as a British entity. General Motors maintained their commitment to Vauxhall since they bought it in the 1920s, particularly in the last 20 years when the operation was loss making. PSA Group, now called Stellantis, had maintained their support for Vauxhall as a British entity so much that Vauxhall was now making a profit under its new owners. Current and previous owners had recognised the value of maintaining a British manufacturing base with British workforce and a sales and marketing effort geared to maintaining the Britishness and success of the brand.
The ad featured the claim “British Brand since 1903”. We understood that the company was established in the UK and began manufacturing cars in 1903. We also understood that Vauxhall’s headquarters, offices, staff and infrastructure were based in the UK and that it manufactured and assembled some of the brand’s models in the UK. While we recognised that some models within the Vauxhall brand, including the Corsa, were manufactured elsewhere, it was only possible to buy a Vauxhall-branded car in the UK. The brand had been owned by General Motors, an American company, and subsequently by the French PSA Group which had since become part of Stellantis, based in the Netherlands. However, that did not change the fact that the brand was established in and exclusively sold in the UK and that it maintained offices and manufacturing operations in the country, thus contributing to the national economy.
We therefore concluded the claim was not misleading. The ad was investigated under BCAP Code rules
Advertisements must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.
In setting or revising any such standards, Ofcom must have regard, in particular and to such extent as appears to them to be relevant to the securing of the standards objectives, to each of these matters:
a) the degree of harm or offence likely to be caused by the inclusion of any particular sort of material in programmes generally, or in programmes of a particular description;
b) the likely size and composition of a potential audience for programmes included in television and radio services generally, or in television and radio services of a particular description;
c) the likely expectation of the audience as to the nature of a programme's content and the extent to which the nature of the programme's content can be brought to the attention of potential members of the audience;
d) the likelihood of persons who are unaware of the nature of the programme's content being unintentionally exposed, by their own actions, to that content;
e) the desirability of securing that the content of services identifies when there is a change affecting the nature of a service that is being watched or listened to and, in particular, a change that is relevant to the application of the standards set under this section...".
Section 3.9 3.9 Broadcasters must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that the audience is likely to regard as objective and that are capable of objective substantiation. The ASA may regard claims as misleading in the absence of adequate substantiation. 4).
(Misleading advertising) and 3.9 3.9 Broadcasters must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that the audience is likely to regard as objective and that are capable of objective substantiation. The ASA may regard claims as misleading in the absence of adequate substantiation. (Substantiation), but was not found in breach.
No further action required.