An ad campaign last year by Lufthansa “gave a misleading impression of the advertiser’s environmental impact,” according to UK advertising regulator the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in a ruling released today.
Lufthansa was ordered to ensure that the basis of future environmental claims in its ads was made clear, and don’t give a misleading impression of the impact of traveling with the airline, with robust substantiation for the claims.
The ruling referred to posters for Lufthansa in June 2022 featuring a view of a plane from the front, with the bottom half represented by an image of the Earth, and a tagline that read “CONNECTING THE WORLD. PROTECTING ITS FUTURE.”
In response to the ASA’s challenge, Lufthansa said that the purpose of the ad, part of its “#MakeChangeFly” campaign, was to address the need to reduce the environmental impact of flying, and make consumers aware of the company’s efforts to achieve that goal, via a link to a website displayed on the ad to www.makechangefly.com. Lufthansa argued that the ad would not be understood as a promise about the company’s service or that it caused no environmental harm, and that it did not make any specific claims to that end.
In it’s ruling, however, while acknowledging that the ad’s text “was ambiguous and not clearly linked to the environment,” the ASA said that appearing with the image of the globe, it was likely to be interpreted by consumers as referring to “how Lufthansa’s approach to aviation was protecting the future of the world.”
Additionally, while the ASA noted that the campaign was based on the airline’s planned specific steps to hit climate goals, its claim that it was “protecting the future,” could be “understood by consumers to mean that Lufthansa had already taken significant mitigating steps to ensure that the net environmental impact of their business was not harmful.”
The ruling comes as the regulator has increased its focus lately on environmental claims made in ads. In October, the ASA ruled that ads by HSBC highlighting the bank’s climate-focused actions were misleading, as they omitted information about HSBC’s continued financing activities for emissions-intensive industries and businesses. Earlier this year, the ASA released guidance for advertisers making environmental sustainability claims to consumers, and said that it will be taking action to address “entirely unqualified” claims of carbon neutrality or net zero.