Did This UK Mercedes Ad Cross The Line?S

The new Mercedes E-Class was launched in Britain with a tree-hugging ad stating "It's a pleasure, but not a guilty one." The UK's national Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) disagreed and told them to pull the print advertisement. Who is right?

The root of the problem seems more to do with the occasional vagueness of the English language more than in any outright lie. The Mercedes ad states "CO2 emissions for the range are down to 139g/km*, which means its better for the environment." The asterisk points out this only applies to the E-Class sedan with a small diesel engine and manual transmission, as the range for C02 emissions actually goes up to 261 g/km with different configurations. Out of 24 possible engine/wheel/transmission/bodystyle possibilities only two were as low as 139 g/km.

According to ASA, "We concluded that the body copy of the ad misleadingly implied that the whole E-Class Saloon range had emissions of 139 g/kg or similar and the claim was likely to mislead."

Mercedes argues they ensured that the claims could be substantiated, and they are, but ASA disagreed and have said the ad can no longer appear in the current form. What do you think? Does this ad cross the line or is this just another example of British speech laws being overly burdensome?

You can read the full complaint here. Here is a transcript of the copy:

"CO2 emissions for the range are down to 139g/km*, which means its better for the environment. It also means you pay less tax. And theres something else thats lower than youd expected as well. The price." The asterisk linked to a footnote which stated "CO2 emissions: 139-261/km ... Based on E250 CDI SE manual available at launch. Model shown is a Mercedes-Benz E250 CDI Sport.

[Image via EasyCarBlog]