The ASA rapped an Alpro ad in 2021 after the dairy alternatives supplier’s bus poster campaign claimed its products, including its almond milk, were ‘Good for the planet, good for you’.
The complainant believed commercial almond farming caused environmental damage, and challenged whether the claim that Alpro is ‘good for the planet’ was “misleading and could be substantiated”.
The ASA concluded the ad was not clear “what the basis of the claim ‘good for the planet’ was” and told Alpro to change it. Alpro defended itself, arguing consumers would understand the claims made in the ad.
Coca-Cola has been on the receiving end of greenwashing accusations multiple times - including as the defendant in a US lawsuit that claimed its sustainability-focused marketing amounted to greenwashing because it helped paint it in an eco-friendly way to gloss over the fact it was the “world’s largest plastic polluter”. The Changing Markets Foundation has also accused it misleading consumers when it advertised a new sustainable bottle packaging made of ‘ocean plastic’ but omitted it only had produced 300 of those bottles.
The popular plant milk brand fell under the ASA’s axe after it made several claims about its own environmental commitments as well as the impact of other sectors of the food industry.
Oatly claimed it generated “73% less CO2e” versus any type of cow milk, and that the dairy and meat industries “emit more CO2e than all the world’s planes, trains, cars, boats etc combined”. The ASA ruled its claims were too broad and didn’t refer to any specific products – such as a direct comparison between Oatly Barista Edition oat milk and whole cows milk, for instance.
The ASA banned an Innocent Drinks video ad last year after it made the rounds on TV and YouTube. The ASA concluded the ad exaggerated the total environmental benefit of the products featured. This was after complainants took issue with its ‘Little Drinks, Big Dreams’ campaign and its recycling-focused messaging, despite Innocent’s single-use plastic products.
The ad was ruled misleading by the ASA for implying that “purchasing Innocent products was a choice that would have a positive environmental impact when that was not the case”.
The supermarket’s cross-media ad made misleading claims that its plant-based range, Plant Chef, was making a positive environmental difference to the planet compared to their meat equivalents, the ASA found. The watchdog accepted that switching to a more plant-based diet could help consumers reduce their overall environmental impact, but said Tesco failed to produce evidence for the entire cycle of its Plant Chef products. Adverts lacking “robust evidence” were “likely to be misleading”, said the ASA.
Tesco said at the time it was “disappointed” with the ruling.
The big food & drink greenwashing crackdown
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