Alpro's advertising campaign for its almond drink, including the "good for the planet" strapline, was challenged on the basis that it was misleading and could not be substantiated.
Alpro argued that taking the ad as a whole - and the wider communications on the benefits of plant-based eating - consumers would understand the claim meant that the Alpro product had a lower environmental impact than alternative dairy-based products.
The problem for Alpro was that their ad did not fully explain that proposition. The ASA will always look for ads to be unambiguous and not misleading - including by way of omission. Alpro's main claim, without further explanation, could have meant either that the product had a net positive environmental benefit, or was less detrimental to the environment compared to diary equivalents. The ASA see those as fundamentally different - and they need to be explained.
There has been some criticism of the impact of commercial almond farming in certain parts of the world. Interestingly, Alpro was largely able to rebut those concerns because they said their almonds were cultivated in a sustainable way from small farms around the Mediterranean, and were mostly watered by rain. But that did not address the fundamental issue that the ad was ambiguous.
This is the first ruling of its kind following the ASA and CMA's recent announcements that there would be greater scrutiny of environmental claims, and so we can expect more of these decisions until brands tighten their approach to avoid allegations of 'greenwashing.'
Andrew Terry, partner at media law firm Harbottle & Lewis, said: “The ‘good for the planet’ strapline was challenged on the basis that it was misleading and could not be substantiated.”