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Greenwash? Hogwash, says advertising watchdog

The majority of ‘green’ claims made in advertising are justified, according to research by the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

The ASA’s survey found 94 per cent of ads with environmental claims were compliant with the advertising codes.

The research was prompted by a significant rise in ‘greenwash’ complaints about consumers being misled or confused by ethical claims in ads last year.

The ASA has also clamped down on greenwashing this year, publicly rebuking Shell and ExxonMobil over environmental and sustainability claims made in advertising material.

Of the 195 ads assessed across TV, radio and non-broadcast outlets, just 12 (six per cent) breached advertising codes.

Director general of the ASA, Christopher Graham, said:

“The compliance survey demonstrates that the ASA is making real progress in ensuring environmental claims do not mislead through exaggeration, ambiguity or omission. The ASA will continue to listen to consumers and work closely with advertisers to improve standards in green and ethical claims even further.”

The full ASA Environmental Claims Survey 2008 Survey can be found here.

1 Comment

  • CharlieH
    Posted November 16, 2008 at 3:07 pm

    In relation to this topic, I thought you might be interested in the below event hosted by Shell on November 19th:
    “The concept of ‘sustainability’, the use of the term by corporate organisations, and issues around communication have all recently been the subject of debate. Bjorn Edlund’s Webchat will discuss, amongst other things, what Shell means by ‘sustainability’, whether companies are trying to hijack the issues, and if advertising claims hold water. We are looking for a broad and informed debate and as such would welcome your participation.
    To see the introductory video which explores the topic in more detail, to register to participate, and to see more of our work, please visit”

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