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January 26, 2022updated 09 Feb 2022 9:40am

Oatly adverts banned for “misleading” green claims

The Advertising Standards Authority received 109 complaints from members of the public and the campaign group A Greener World.

By Andy Coyne

Oatly has seen a UK advertising campaign for its alternative-milk products banned after the Sweden-based company was judged to have made “misleading” environmental claims.

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The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) investigated television and press adverts, as well as social-media posts, after receiving 109 complaints from members of the public and the campaign group A Greener World. The complainants challenged whether Oatly’s claims could be substantiated.

In the TV ads, Oatly said its products generate 73% less carbon dioxide versus milk. Posts on Twitter and on Facebook claimed “the dairy and meat industries emit more CO2e than all the world’s planes, trains, cars, boats etc., combined”.

Meanwhile, a newspaper advert from Oatly said: “Today, more than 25% of the world’s greenhouse gases are generated by the food industry, and meat and dairy account for more than half of that.” In a second newspaper ad, Oatly used text that stated: “Climate experts say cutting dairy and meat products from our diets is the single biggest lifestyle change we can make to reduce our environmental impact” and “If everyone in the world adopted a vegan diet, it would reduce food’s annual greenhouse emissions by 6.6bn metric tons (a 49% reduction).”

Upholding the complaints, the ASA rejected the CO2 claims because they were based on the opinion of one climate expert. The regulator said the transport claims “overstated” the emissions of the meat and dairy industry because Oatly did not take into account emissions covering the full life cycle of transport, only emissions when a vehicle is driven.

The ASA said: “We concluded that because the evidence was not sufficient to support the claim as consumers would understand it, the ads were misleading.”

Oatly said it had no plans to repeat the claim and removed posts making similar claims from its own social media channel. A company spokesperson told The Guardian newspaper said: “We’re a science-based company and take pride in being precise, but we could have been clearer. We talk about these things a lot, because we want to make it easy for people to make an informed switch from dairy to oat drink.”

In August, Oatly lost a court case in the UK relating to its trademark. It had claimed the UK oatmilk business Glebe Farm was infringing its trademark by use of the brand PureOaty on its product. But Judge Nicholas Craddock, sitting in the High Court in London, dismissed Oatly’s claims.

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Unilever- A Deep-dive into Product Launches and Advertising Strategy

Unilever product advertising is mainly through mainstream TV channels. Out of the products advertised so far at least 50% (over 850) of ads have been run on TV, while print media comes second with 496 ads. Unilever also utilizes social media platforms for advertisement. Unilever products are categorized by innovation ratings and tags in our product launch database. The North American region consists of almost 74 products with innovations related to the formulation of the product. Europe and other regions also have more products categorized under formulation-related innovation, followed by the packaging and positioning of the products. Most Unilever products are tagged with “High Vitamins”, “Recyclable”, and “Natural” tags to understand what the product differentiator is from other products available in the market. The majority of products belong to the personal care industry with a total of 5,788 products to date. This report, through the Unilever Example, illustrates how GlobalData Explorer enables you to:  
  • Track product launches by FMCG companies to get an understanding of the product-level strategies including geographic concentrations, innovation types, product claim, category focus and more
  • Monitoring the advertising strategies of various brands and gain insights into channel focus, regional focus, and more
  • Perform company-level analysis to understand business model, size, and geographic focus
Don’t miss out on key market insights that can help optimize your next investment – read the report now.
by GlobalData
Enter your details here to receive your free Report.

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