Innocent adverts which encourage customers to “get fixing up the planet” by choosing its drinks have been banned for exaggerating the environmental benefit of the products.
The advert by the Coca-Cola owned juices and smoothies brand was bought to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) following 26 complaints. One of the complainants identified themselves as representing Plastics Rebellion, claiming the advert “exaggerated the total environmental benefit of the products and was therefore misleading.”
The advertising campaign, which ran across TV, video on demand and YouTube, showed animated characters singing the lyrics: “We’re messing up the planet. We’re messing up real good,” against a backdrop of buildings and vehicles expelling pollutants, litter and dirty rivers.
An otter then picks up a guitar and adds: “OK, let’s try this instead,” before singing: “Let’s get fixing up the planet. Fix it up real good.” The background then changes to a greener, brighter colour scheme with images of trees being planted.
The song continues: “Reduce. Re-use. Recycle. Because there is no planet B. If we’re looking after nature she’ll be looking after me,” accompanied by images of people relaxing in a lush green environment, with many of them alongside bottles of Innocent drinks.
The ad concludes with “Innocent. Little drinks with big dreams for a healthier planet.”
Despite the 26 complaints, Innocent said there was “no suggestion in the advert that buying Innocent themselves would lead to a positive environmental impact”, insisting it was a statement about its “wider environmental goals”.
The drinks company added that, if the complaints to be upheld, the effect may be to “stifle other brands and manufacturers from taking steps towards and communicating information about positive environmental actions they were taking.”
However, the advertising watchdog said many customers would interpret the overall message of the adverts to mean that buying Innocent products was a choice which would have a positive environmental impact. It also noted that Innocent drinks bottles included non-recycled plastic and that the extraction of raw materials and subsequent processing of those materials in order to produce the bottle would have a negative impact on the environment.
The ASA stated: “Although we acknowledged that Innocent were undertaking various actions which were aimed at reducing the environmental impact of their products, that did not demonstrate that their products had a net positive environmental impact over their full lifecycles.
“Because the ads implied that purchasing Innocent products was a choice which would have a positive environmental impact when that was not the case, we concluded that the ads were misleading.”
Innocent added: “We’re disappointed to see the ruling from the ASA. Our advert was always intended to highlight important global environmental issues and the need for collective action to make a change. We transparently share more about the work that we do on sustainability on our website.
“As with any new guidelines, we’d like to work with the ASA and other brands to understand how to align to them to continue the conversation on these important topics.”