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A billboard shows an SUV driving towards the viewer. On either side of the SUV people can be seen fleeing. A caption at the top of the billboard reads "Toyota Land Crusher. Dominate Life"
Feature image: Lindsay Grime.

As the doors opened at the Brussels Auto Salon, a major event in the calendar of car enthusiasts, the Subvertisers International took action alongside Brandalism and XR against the greenwash of car companies’ adverts. 

Ten different artworks criticising Toyota and BMW were installed by activists on over 400 billboards and bus stops in Belgium and cities across Europe, including: London, Berlin, Stuttgart, Paris, Nantes, Brussels, Ghent, Bristol, Derby, Glasgow, Norwich, Brighton, Exeter and Reading.

Toyota and BMW are two of the world’s biggest car companies and some of the worst culprits for carbon emissions and anti-climate lobbying

Activists used the action to demand stronger policy from governments to regulate the advertisement of environmentally harmful products and prevent misleading green claims from big polluters. A few weeks after the action, it was revealed that the EU is proposing to do exactly this

The Europe-wide action fell against a backdrop of growing international momentum behind the idea of introducing tobacco-style advertising bans on climate-wrecking products, such as fossil fuels and SUVs.

This artwork by Fokawolf targeted Toyota using the fact that in 2022, Toyota was ranked the 10th worst company in the world for anti-climate lobbying, the worst of all car makers. Only fossil companies like Exxon Mobil ranked worse. (BMW came 16th.)  

A man stands in front of a billboard. The board shows an SUV under a banner reading "Let's Ruin Everything". In the bottom left corner is a Toyota logo.
Billboard by Fokawolk calling out Toyota’s anti-climate lobbying.

A billboard design by Matt Bonner calls out Toyota for continuing to produce fossil fuel cars. Despite the company’s claims to be leaders in sustainable travel, they have lagged far behind other car companies in switching to electric vehicles, and their own production schedule will see them produce millions more cars than allowed under the Paris Climate Agreement. 

A billboard shows, on the left, a Toyota advert touting their sustainability, and, on the right, a traffic jam of heavily polluting cars, one of which has a Toyota logo very prominently on its front.
Matt Bonner’s design calls out the duplicity of Toyota’s ads, which show them as green when in reality they are not.

A bus stop design by Street Market Subvertiser used the face of Toyota CEO, Akio Toyoda, to highlight how Toyoda has frequently and publicly criticised electric vehicles and lobbied against lower emissions standards around the world, including in Japan and the USA. 

A poster shows a man's face with oil pouring from the eyes. A caption reads: "Mr Toyota says Screw the Climate"
A bus stop poster by Street Market Subvertiser. Photo: SimonBeavis

Despite advertising suggesting a shift towards less polluting electric vehicles, BMW continues to push gas-guzzling SUVs. Their sales are driven by the X range of SUVs and they have every intention on growing their luxury SUV market. 

A poster shows a large BMW car with flames reflected in the windows. Below is the text "Catastrophe Climaatique Garantie"
A poster by Merny Wernz calling out BMW.

BMW has also been accused of using unrealistic emissions figures for their plug-in hybrid range. Real world emissions have been found to be up to 12 times higher than stated by the company. 

A poster in a bus stop shows crash test dummies, made to look like a family of two parents and two children, above the caption "When we test our emissions, the test dummy is you"
A Darren Cullen design mentions BMW’s emissions record.
A billboard shows a lizard lying dead on a road. Below it is a Toyota logo and the words "Today Tomorrow Toyota"
A billboard design by Hogre.
A billboard shows a pink SUV driving through a hellscape.
Michelle Tylicki’s design targets advertising itself for its role in driving climate breakdown.