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ASA considers Lufthansa advert

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Key facts:

In March 2023, the ASA ruled that a poster advert by Deutsche Lufthansa AG breached the CAP Code by giving a misleading impression of Lufthansa’s environmental impact.

The advert had featured an image of the front of a plane in flight, with the underside of the plane represented by an image of the earth from space, and the text “LUFTHANSA GROUP. CONNECTING THE WORLD. PROTECTING ITS FUTURE. #MakeChangeFly”.

The ASA found the advert to breach the following provisions of the CAP Code:

  • Rule 3.1: “Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so”;
  • Rule 11.1: “The basis of environmental claims must be clear. Unqualified claims could mislead if they omit significant information”;
  • Rule 11.3: “Absolute claims must be supported by a high level of substantiation”; and
  • Rule 11.4: “Marketers must base environmental claims on the full life cycle of the advertised product, unless the marketing communication states otherwise, and must make clear the limits of the life cycle. If a general claim cannot be justified, a more limited claim about specific aspects of a product might be justifiable. Marketers must ensure claims that are based on only part of the advertised product’s life cycle do not mislead consumers about the product’s total environmental impact.

Lufthansa had responded that the advert contained a clear hyperlink to the website www.makechangefly.com and was part of its wider #MakeChangeFly campaign. The website contained information about the need to reduce the impact of flying on the environment and making consumers aware of how Lufthansa was achieving that.

It argued that its tagline was open to interpretation and would not be understood as an absolute promise or statement about its service and consumers would not understand the statement as intending to make a narrow and distinct reference to protecting the environment. Rather, it would be seen by consumers as a mission statement to draw people to the website. Only by going to the website could the advert be clearly linked to environmental claims and the website had sufficient explanation and was clearly qualified.

However, the ASA ruled that the CAP Code required that absolute environmental claims must be supported by a high level of substantiation. The ASA noted that Lufthansa’s campaign was based on specific steps taken to be more environmentally friendly, including aspirations to become carbon neutral by 2050 and to cut carbon emissions in half by 2030 but found that “PROTECTING ITS FUTURE” was not qualified with this information and was likely to be understood by consumers to mean that Lufthansa had already taken significant mitigating steps to ensure that the net environmental impact of its business was not harmful.

It further noted that the initiatives and targets Lufthansa said it was committed to delivering in pursuit of its stated goal were targeted to deliver results only years or decades into the future and that there were currently no environmental initiatives or commercially viable technologies in the aviation industry which would substantiate the absolute green claim “PROTECTING ITS FUTURE”.

The ASA concluded that, because the basis of the claim had not been made clear and it had not been adequately substantiated, the advert breached the Code.

Source(s):

ASA ruling

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