Controversy over green fuel ad campaign

A marketing campaign promoting a Swedish bus company’s use of environmentally friendly biofuels has come under fire for depicting children drinking from petrol pumps.

Controversy over green fuel ad campaign

“It’s outrageous,” Swedish Poison Information Centre (Giftinformationscentralen) doctor Kristin Karlsson told The Local upon being informed of the Flygbussarna Airport Coach advertisements.

On its website, the company, which operates shuttle buses to seven airports throughout Sweden, stresses its concern for the environment.

Recently Flygbussarna announced a plan to increase the use of rapeseed oil-based biofuel in its fleet, with the goal of being completely fossil-fuel free in three years.

The company launched an ad campaign this week to promote its green-fuel credentials, using posters which show people, including children, drinking from fuel pumps with the Flygbussarna logo.

The text of the ads insinuates that the company’s rapeseed-based fuel is safe enough to drink.

Karlsson found the advertisements deeply troubling.

“Children may be inspired by the ads to put a nozzle into their mouth and if it is not rapeseed oil, then it can be catastrophic,” she said.

Members of the public have also voiced their displeasure with the ads.

“We’ve received a number of complaints,” said a representative of the Marketing Ethics Board (MarknadsEtiska Rådet), a marketing watchdog organization which comments on the appropriateness of companies’ advertising and marketing materials.

The Ethics Board representative confirmed that the watchdog organization had plans to launch an investigation into the Flybussarna campaign, and as a result could not comment further on the matter.

But Flybussarna CEO Mikael Bergkvist downplayed concerns that the ads may be dangerous to children’s health.

“Children see a lot of violence on TV they never go and shoot people afterwards,” he told The Local.