Adwatch: Environmental Claims

In this edition of Adwatch we look at three complaints cases highlighting the use of environmental claims in advertising. According to the AANA Environmental Claims Code Environmental Claims in Advertising or Marketing Communication must not be misleading or deceptive; be a genuine benefit to the environment and be able to be substantiated.

Minerals Council

Minerals Council ad, person on a horse on a farm in australia with slogan "there's more to Australian mining



Issue:    Environmental Code – Substantiation



This TV ad features farmers talking about rehabilitated land after mining.  The complainant’s concerns were that the ad claims that mine companies restore mined land to its pre-mining state and that the claim is incorrect as land once mined is never returned to the pre-existing state.

The Panel considered whether the ad makes an environmental claim and noted that the people in the ad make the following statements: “It’s hard to believe this whole paddock used to be a mine”; “For us, it’s not just about mining”; “We’re absolutely passionate about the rehabilitation work we do”; “Once the mining’s gone, this beautiful rehab land is here to stay”; “With the mining and the agriculture, we work together – there’s certainly no them and us”; “We all have the same goals – we want healthy cows and productive land after mining”; “It’s about giving back to our communities for future generations” The Panel considered that the ad does not make the claim that land is returned to its pre-mining state. The comments made by the people in the ad do not constitute environmental claims and therefore the provisions of the Environment Code do not apply. Read the report.



Sodastream ad with sodastream bottle close up



Issue:    Environmental claims Code – Truthful and Factual; Genuine Environmental Benefit



This TV ad features a woman playing the ukulele as a seal in the background barks at a chessboard. She sings that you can save the planet with a few “pffs and psss”. A voiceover announces step one, “Buy SodaStream,” step 2 “save 2000 bottles by using one reusable bottle” and step three “planet saved”. A SodaStream Sparkling Water Maker appears on screen with the words “Better for you, better for the planet”.

The complainant’s concerns were that the environmental benefit claim in the ad is broad and overstates any supposed benefit to the environment. The Panel considered that the words “save up to 2000 bottles by using one reusable bottle” is a general claim about the product, and is not an Environmental Claim. The Panel noted the advertiser’s response describing the equation of how a person could save 2000 bottles by using one SodaStream bottle, and agreed that the claim was substantiated. The Panel then considered the words “Save the planet” and “Planet saved” and noted that the complainant considered this statement to be deceptive. This statement would be considered by most members of the community to be a form of puffery, and not a statement that an individual would actually save the planet by using the product. Claims in puffery are obviously exaggerated, and because exaggeration works to get people’s attention, puffery is generally an accepted advertising technique provided that the ad does not deliberately mislead or make false claims. Based on the above the Panel determined that the advertisement’s claim regarding 2000 bottles being saved by using one reusable bottle was not misleading. The Panel determine that the words “save the planet” was general puffery. Read the report.



Fishing boat medium sized sitting in harbour

Issue:    Environmental Code – Substantiation


This TV ad features Curtis Stone on a fishing boat talking about Coles salmon. The complainants’ concerns were that the ad makes a false claim that the seafood is responsibly sourced, claims that the seafood is sustainable and misleadingly suggests the Coles Salmon is wild caught salmon.

The Community Panel considered that the claim ‘responsibly sourced seafood’ is a claim most members of the community would understand to mean that Coles understand where their seafood is caught and that the manner sourcing of their seafood would has lower impact on the aquatic ecosystem than seafood captured using less responsible fishing methods. The definition of responsibly sourced is available on the Wesfarmers website: “Responsibly sourced seafood means Coles knows how and where its seafood is caught, ensuring fish populations and the impact on surrounding habitats and ecosystems are monitored to meet robust sourcing standards.” The Panel considered that this is an environmental claim.

The Panel considered that the certification process, and the measures put in place by Coles in assessing “responsibly sourced” criteria would be considered by most reasonable members of the community to meet the threshold of an environmental claim about responsibly sourced seafood. The advertiser provided sufficient documentation to the Panel to substantiate the claims made in the ad as their products are certified by ASC and that the ASC system meets criteria for a claim of responsibly sourced and that the ad did not breach Section 3(a) of the Environment Code. Read the report.


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