Amsterdam-based cycle business VanMoof has been around for the last 12 years, but in 2020 it came to the attention of the world thanks to a surprisingly controversial ad. Created in the wake of the pandemic, and as a response to people’s renewed willingness to change their routines, the film showed a car melting down like a wax candle – sandwiched between footage of unending queues of traffic, and reflecting imagery of belching power plants.
Almost immediately, France’s advertising regulatory authority, ARPP, banned the commercial from broadcast, describing it as “creating a climate of anxiety”. VanMoof’s ad would have been one of the first bike ads on French TV, but instead ended up being the first banned.
At the time, VanMoof had just hired an internal PR team who, according to PR manager Mila de Randamie, “immediately switched everything up”. Within a day the brand had put out its own press release about being banned and, according to de Randamie, within 72 hours had received coverage across the world. “It was insane, but we never really doubted what we should do,” she tells CR. “It’s a topic, and we made it for a reason, and I think this is exactly why we made it.”