Really, France?

This post was going to link out to one of our favorite sources, celebrating fossil fuel tough times. But at the very end of his post, almost as a throw away, there was this reference to the ad above. It led somewhere more fun–and got us thinking Really?–and a chance to instead shout out again about ebikes and VanMoof:

This e-bike ad has been banned in France – let’s talk about why

by Iain Treloar

E-bikes are the future. That’s what the bike industry thinks, that’s what a bunch of new cyclists think, and that’s what sustainable transportation advocates think.

But not everyone thinks that way, as a spat between e-bike brand VanMoof and the French advertising regulatory body has proven.

At the centre of this stoush is a slick TV commercial by VanMoof, a Dutch urban bicycle brand best known for creating that bike with the top tube that looks like that. In the ad, a glossy black sports car has images of pollution, traffic jams and emergency vehicles projected onto it, before melting into a pile of black goo from which a VanMoof e-bike emerges to the slogan ‘time to ride the future’.

It’s pretty visually striking. It also does a succinct job of boiling down many of the concerns people have about over-reliance on automobiles in light of the, you know, climate emergency that we may or may not* be going through globally (*definitely are).

So it’s a little surprising to learn that the ad has been banned from French television because it “creates a climate of fear” around cars.

So what’s really going on here? Let’s break this down.



VanMoof: The quirky Dutch brand launched in 2009 with an analogue town bike with integrated lights and lock, and has since had an electric renaissance. Their second-generation e-bikes, the S3 and X3, are masterpieces of integration at a newly competitive price. They still look like VanMoofs, which is to say, you will either find them to have an alluring whimsy or be quite repulsive. There really is no in-between.

Autorité de régulation professionnelle de la publicité (ARPP): The French regulatory body in charge of advertising standards, which “represents advertisers, agencies and the media”. Remember that first one.

French automotive industry (behind the scenes, presumably applying substantial pressure onto the ARPP): Under the banners of Peugeot, Citroën and Renault, the French automotive industry has a lengthy, nationally symbolic history and is a major employer in France. Due to the pressures of COVID-19, it is currently being absolutely walloped.

Sales of French-built cars reportedly dropped 50% in May, leading the French government to pledge €8 billion to prop up the ailing industry. If I was editorialising, I’d say that French cars have a long and storied reputation of breaking in eccentric ways – but I’m not, so I won’t.


As previously mentioned, VanMoof’s commercial is a slick piece of advertising (you can see it at the top of this post). Through its 45 seconds, viewers are treated to artful slow pans of a brand-agnostic vehicle soundtracked by a cover of Jackie Lomax’s ‘New Day’, in loving homage/slavish imitation of Massive Attack’s ‘Teardrop’

Read the whole post here.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s