"World leaders in 100 per cent electric since 2010," Nissan boasted about itself in a recent advert. But does that mean the world leader (as in number one) or a world leader (nowhere near number one)? According to Nissan, it's the latter.
Someone far more devoted to pedantry thought it necessary to complain to the Advertising Standards Authority for clarity on this vitally important point.
The ASA came down against Nissan, in spite of the carmaker pleading that it was "one of the world leaders in the manufacturing of all electric cars". For its part, Nissan said that describing itself as "world leaders" must mean the same thing as "leaders in the field".
Nissan then quoted figures from the Society of Motor Traders and Manufacturers showing that they held 56.1 per cent of the UK's all-electric car market, and extra figures from car market research firm JATO (not to be confused with the mid-20th century Jet Assistance Take-Off system used on heavy military transport aircraft) saying they had sold a majority of all electric cars in the UK since 2010.
Ad regulators were unimpressed, unfortunately, saying: "We reviewed the evidence submitted by Nissan and the sales figures they provided made it clear that since 2010 they had cumulatively sold the most all-electric vehicles. However, we noted that in 2010 they sold significantly fewer vehicles than in the following years, and had not been the best-selling manufacturer in that year."
Just to make the point, they added: "Further, we noted that, although they had been the best-selling car manufacturer in the all-electric category each year between 2011 and 2015 that was not the case in 2016."
Dismissing Nissan's point of view, the ASA ruled that the advert, broadcast in February this year for "The Electric February Event", was misleading and "must not appear in its current form again" – as close to a token slap on the wrist as adland's watchdogs are capable of dishing out. In addition, future Nissan ads must make clear "the basis of any comparative claim". ®