In the middle of a pandemic, during the month of April, VanMoof produced an advertisement promoting its electric bikes, the usual for any manufacturer. Less normal is a country like France, which also makes electric bicycles as well as automobiles, has decided that the Dutch ad was offensive to cars and, we assume, to the car industry.
The film, which tastes as dubious as the message, aimed to promote urban electric mobility, drawing attention to the long lines of traffic on the highways leading to major cities, mixed with the pollution that comes from the chimneys of factories. Certainly, the latter would not be metal foundries, the one used in the manufacture of bicycle frames, or thermoelectric power plants that produce the electricity with which two or four wheel electric vehicles are recharged.
But instead of letting the public see VanMoof’s promotional video and deciding what to make of its technical quality or the message it wants to convey to those who see it, the French decided that their citizens were too influential, or too sensitive, to achieve take a decision on their head and decided to ban the ad in the country.
The curious thing is that the advertisement was already known in France, since the advertising had already passed on Dutch and German televisions, which put the Autorité de Regulation Profissionnelle de la Publicité (ARPP) on guard. So as soon as VanMoof decided to attack the French market, the ARPP fell on top of him, sending the game down, which is like saying, the ad.
According to the Gallic regulator, the fear was that the attempt to demonize the car would hurt local sensibility. Since Dutch bicycles are not particularly attractive, it is even possible that the ban has managed to create greater notoriety than if the advertisement passed normally, as you would expect. VanMoof produced a meaningless advertisement and France responded in kind, with a meaningless decision.