Daniel Boffey Wed 1 Jul 2020 10.41 BST

A TV commercial for a Dutch-made bicycle has been banned by France’s advertising watchdog for creating a “climate of fear” about cars.
Despite being aired on Dutch and German television, the Autorité de régulation professionnelle de la publicité (ARPP) said the ad for the VanMoof bike unfairly discredited the automobile industry.

The advert features a shiny black car on which are reflected images of chimneys, the flashing lights of emergency vehicles and traffic jams. The vehicle melts away to transform into the Dutch company’s latest e-bike, accompanied by the tag line: “Time to ride the future”.

“Some images in the reflection of the car are, in our opinion, unbalanced and discredit the entire car sector,” the ARPP said in a letter sent to VanMoof. “The images of factories/chimneys and an accident create a climate of fear. So they will have to be adapted.”
The French advertising code prohibits the exploitation of fear and suffering in commercials.
In response, the watchdog has been accused by the bike manufacturer of seeking to protect the French car industry after sales plummeted during the coronavirus pandemic.
French manufacturers’ sales halved in May, forcing President Emmanuel Macron to launch an €8bn rescue plan for the industry, whose brands include Peugeot, Citroën and Renault.