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Consumer Reports video ad rejected at gas pumps in major US cities

  • CR ad promotes the consumer benefits of stronger fuel efficiency standards for new cars
  • CR petition urges White House to strengthen standards that save consumers money, reduce pollution

WASHINGTON, D.C.  Consumer Reports tried to place a 15-second video advertisement at gas stations in six major U.S. metro areas this month. The ad promotes the consumer benefits of stronger fuel efficiency standards for new vehicles and ends with a link to a petition from the nonprofit, nonpartisan CR that urges the White House to strengthen standards. However, when the CR ad was shown to agencies that place ads for the gas stations, it was rejected, noting that the language promoted customers spending less money and time at the retailer.  Since people can’t see the ad at the pump, CR is ramping up efforts to show the ad online, so people can learn more about how stronger fuel efficiency standards deliver cost savings and help reduce pollution.

“Americans are spending about a billion dollars at the pump every day, and we are trying to stand side-by-side with consumers to get them some relief,” says David Friedman, Vice President of Advocacy at Consumer Reports. “We’re in this mess because oil and auto companies successfully lobbied for the rollback of fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards, and now we’re having to find a way around gas pump ad agencies, too.”

A nationally representative survey conducted by CR in July and August 2020 found 64 percent of Americans who were planning to buy or lease a vehicle in the next two years said that fuel economy is “extremely important” or “very important” to them when considering what vehicle to get next.  Seventy-three percent of respondents said the federal government should continue to increase fuel economy standards, and 74 percent said automakers have a responsibility to consumers to improve gas mileage.

In the Biden administration’s first days in office, it set ambitious climate goals and committed to getting the U.S. back on a path to a low-carbon economy by 2050, and followed it up with a commitment to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions at least in half by 2030. “To achieve these climate objectives, the administration must start by restoring the Obama-era fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas standards through 2025, and then go further to set stronger standards that will cut new vehicle emissions 60% by 2030,” says Chris Harto, senior policy analyst at Consumer Reports. “These standards would result in $1.6 trillion in savings for consumers through reduced fuel and maintenance costs, and eliminate 10 gigatons of global warming pollution.”

The Biden administration is expected to announce its proposed revisions to the U.S. vehicle fuel economy and greenhouse gas requirements this summer, so the timing of the rejected gas pump ads raises concerns with advocacy groups that are in favor of stronger federal standards. While this ad won’t be seen at gas pumps, the consumer research organization is committed to holding the administration accountable for reaching its climate goals, while saving consumers a significant amount of money at the gas pump.


Contact: Carsen Mata, carsen.mata@consumer.org