Peugeot: Just Add Colloquialisms

And here is the Advertising Standards Authority’s response to the complaint I raised….

Mr J Davis
West Sussex

Dear Mr Davis


Thank you for contacting the ASA with your complaint regarding a TV ad for Peugeot Motor Company. I am sorry to hear this has caused you concern. I understand you were concerned that the ad’s reference to “Road Tax” was misleading and should have been referred to “Vehicle Excise Duty”. The ASA can intervene if an ad that has been broadcast appears to be likely to be in breach of the UK Code of Broadcast Advertsing by, among other things, being likely to cause serious or widespread offense, risking causing significant harm or being materially misleading. In this case we do not consider there has been such a breach and will not be taking any action.

While it is true that the correct term is “Vehicle Excise Duty”, colloquialisms such as “Road Tax” are often used by advertisers to articulate a message in a way that will be understood by the widest audience. We do not consider that the use in the ad would have misled viewers or promoted a view that only motorists pay for road building and maintenance, and will therefore not investigate the matter further.

I realise that this may disappoint you, but thank you nonetheless for taking the time to contact us with your concerns. The ASA website,, contains more information about the work we do, including the results of investigations into complaints.

Yours sincerely


Complaints Executive

 In fairness, it was jolly nice of them to write. I completely disagree. I know I’m not alone either.

This from Carlton Reid’s IPayRoadTax website.

13 thoughts on “Peugeot: Just Add Colloquialisms”

  1. “colloquialisms such as “Road Tax” are often used by advertisers to articulate a message in a way that will be understood by the widest audience.”

    So if the ASA think the audience is mostly misinformed, that makes it alright to continue spreading the misinformation?

    That’s good to know.

  2. I complained to the ASA about a lexus ad that said no road tax. If enough people complain, they will start to pay attention. It just needs enough people to complain, otherwise they will dismiss it. In my posting I explained that is was offensive

    “In the advertisement the phrase “road tax” is used to mean “zero-rated Vehicle Excise Duty”. While using the term “road tax” may be viewed as a simplification of the truth, those of us who cycle round the UK are continually harassed -in the press and the streets, due to our failure “to pay road tax” -in the belief that we do not do so and hence have no rights to the road.

    Car advertisements provide an opportunity to actually educate the customer, rather than re-inforce mistaken beliefs which many motorists -and perhaps the copywrighter- appears to hold, and so reduce conflict between people cycling and driving.

    Given that your organisation recently forbid a car advertisement showing adults cycling without a helmet before 21:00 as it may give children a bad impression, it seems only fair that car advertisements that give drivers a bad impression -that we cyclists do not pay for the country’s roads- get frowned upon.”

    1. Ah, but to the non-cycling public, cycling is a dangerous activity and children must be shielded from such reckless ideas such as being able to ride a bicycle without fear or safety equipment. That’s a commonly accepted norm for the majority which makes it right for some reason. Getting the adults to look straight in to their badly adjusted rear view mirrors as to where the fault really lies is a different matter 🙂

  3. “We work to ensure ads are legal, decent, honest and truthful”, so claiming to provide payment of a tax which has not existed for 80 years is “truthful” is it? The ASA are failing to apply their own rules….

    1. In this instance, the ASA are applying the Hoover Principle. The correct term is ‘Vacuum Cleaner’ with Hoover just being a brand but it has become acceptable to call any Vacuum Cleaner a Hoover.

      However, if you called a Dyson vacuum a ‘Hoover’ in front of the inventor, James Dyson, he might be a little bit miffed but he won’t attempt to assault you with a motor car, or subject you to a tirade of ill-informed and agressive abuse.

  4. I got exactly the same response – they obviously put a lot of effort into it! Hey Ho, I feel another complaint coming on……. I think I’ll change my name to Meldrew!

  5. I had exactly this arguement with my youngest daughter the other evening who has recently passed her driving test.She was complaining about a cyclist cycling defensively in front of her up a hill; i.e he was riding about a metre out from the kerb rather than in the gutter. The position he was in stopped her from overtaking him. When I asked her why she thought he should give way she said; ‘because I pay road tax and he doesn’t’. I attempted to put her right on the ‘vehicle excise duty’ she pays for her car and I think she’s still talking to me. She is an intelligent young woman and a teacher, but she has a lot to learn, some of which obviously needs to be part of the theory driving test. The attitude of the ASA is typical in these circumstances. They fail to make the link between inaccurate information and the resultant attitudes of ignorant drivers. Until adverts like the Peugeot one are properly managed the problems will continue.

    1. Why don’t I expect any less from a Conservative Councillor?! It’s a good post from Cyclists in the City as I know Guildford very well (being the town of my birth). It is an utter hell hole for cycling. And the new(ish) home of the CTC.

      1. I agree about Guildford – what do you expect when you create an orbital racetrack in the centre of your town?

        It’s not much better for pedestrians. The walk from the station to the centre of town is atrocious. A pavement a few feet wide, next to a three lane urban motorway.

  6. Blimey, I go away for a few days and all hell breaks loose on the ‘road tax’ front…

    The ASA ‘truthful’ bit is a corker, and well worth digging into.

  7. I’ve written to Nicholas Soames – he’s my MP and Winston Churchill’s grandson to see if he can help seeing as his grandad was the man who abolished “road tax”.

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