Two advertising campaigns that falsely suggested that car drivers could lessen their impact on the environment were removed following complaints.
Advertisements by multinational energy company Shell and vehicle manufacturer Land Rover were considered misleading by watchdogs.
Advertising standards authorities in the Netherlands and Ireland concluded that the companies failed to substantiate their claims.
Both companies were instructed to withdraw the ads.
Shell’s Misleading CO2 Offset Claim
The global energy company has been told it cannot claim that customers can offset CO2 emissions from their cars by filling up at their gas stations.
Shell’s ‘CO2 offset’ claim promises that fuel purchases with Shell offer a way for drivers to offset the climate impact your vehicle’s CO2 emissions.
The premise for this statement is that the energy company invests in environmental projects that, according to it, contribute to reducing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.
The Dutch Advertising Code Committee (RCC) in the Netherlands has ruled that such an absolute claim must be proved and that Shell does not.
The RCC concluded that protecting forests or planting trees does not compensate for the climatic damage caused by the fires fossil fuels.
This comes after complaints filed by university professor Clemens Kaupa, Greenpeace Netherlands and Advertising Fossil Free.
Shell has two weeks to appeal.
Last year, the RCC decided that Shell’s “carbon neutral” campaign, which also suggested that customers could pay more to offset their CO2 emissionsit was misleading.
“RCC decided last year that the term ‘carbon neutral’ is misleading. Shell then replaced the term ‘carbon neutral’ with ‘CO2 offset’. They thought that would solve the problem,” says Kaupa.
“But this new ruling confirms that no matter what word they use, as long as they can’t demonstrate a clear benefit to the climate, every word is misleading.”
Are Land Rover SUVs Sustainable?
The Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI) took down a Land Rover ad about similar false claims.
A print ad from the automaker suggested that its SUVs could help save the planet.
In the campaign, gardener Diarmuid Gavin, the company’s brand ambassador, suggested he is following a more sustainable lifestyle by driving a Land Rover.
In the sponsored article in several national newspapers in Ireland, Gavin claims that the Land Rover Defender Hard Top was helping him “plant the seeds of a more sustainable life”. The gardener said the vehicle’s mild hybrid technology “fits in with their sustainability goals.”
ASAI received 28 complaints after the ad ran last summer. Readers said the campaign appeared to be green washsince SUVs cannot be considered environmentally friendly.
The ad agency ruled that Land Rover could not support Gavin’s statements, nor the claim that the vehicle was the first step towards going all-electric, as the article suggested.
ASAI also said that Gavin’s claim that the SUV hybrid The technology reduces the amount of fuel needed could not be declared by the company unless a comparison with other vehicles could support it.
Land Rover was instructed not to run the ad campaign again.