Vauxhall is acting properly in marketing brand's Britishness, ASA rules

Ads watchdog throws out bizarre complaints that Vauxhall, a brand named after a south London area and which is only available to buy in the UK, may not claim to be "British since 1903".

Vauxhall did not mislead people in its advertising by claiming it has been a “British Brand” for over a century, the Advertising Standards Authority has ruled.

The ads watchdog received four complaints that Vauxhall was not British, it was claimed. The complainants' argument was that the marque has been owned by French car giant PSA Group since 2017 and was previously owned by US behemoth General Motors for 80 years. PSA merged with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles this year to form Dutch-headquartered multinational Stellantis. 

An ad for the Vauxhall Corsa, seen in January, ran on TV and ended with the on-screen statement “British brand since 1903”. 

Vauxhall launched the “Plan Corsa” ad campaign in November 2020 and it is replete with unintelligible marketing statements such as “Start at Plan C”, “Plan C writes new rules” and “[Plan C gives you] technology that puts you in the driver’s seat”. 

When contacted by the ASA, Vauxhall Motors said that the Vauxhall brand was a trademark owned by Vauxhall Motors Ltd, a UK-registered entity, Vauxhall branded vehicles were sold exclusively in Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and Vauxhall had always built vehicles in Britain. The company said the fact that Vauxhall’s parent company, Stellantis, was neither British nor based in the UK did not change the fact that Vauxhall was a British brand.

Vauxhall Motors was founded in the mid-nineteenth century and is named after the south London locale in which the company was based. 

In its ruling, published today, the ASA concluded the ad was not misleading because it is only possible to buy a Vauxhall-branded car in the UK (hence why it is known as Opel in other countries). Meanwhile, the brand was not only established in the UK but also maintains offices and manufacturing operations in the country. 

MediaCom holds the media-buying account after winning the business in 2017, while McCann picked up the European advertising account for Vauxhall and Opel a year later.