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Marketers can get helpful tips from the NAD on environmental claims by reviewing the latest cases.

Marketers can get helpful tips from the NAD on environmental claims by reviewing the latest cases.

From consumer goods to cutting-edge industry like blockchain
and crypto, consumers want more environmentally-friendly solutions.
Advertisers are responding by rushing to promote their products.
sustainability-focused corporate missions and product solutions. In
recent decisions,Butterball,Georgia-Pacific,EverlaneThe National Advertising Association
The Division (NAD), BBB National Programs, provided useful and
Here is detailed guidance on how advertisers support sustainability
Avoid making unqualified general environmental benefits.
False claims can lead to consumers being misled

Marketing lawyers aren’t the only ones. Brand owners and trademark holders are also important.
Overreaching should be a concern for both counsel and clients.
environmental marketing claims. Taglines, wordmarks, and even
Logos (e.g. images that give the impression of a logo)
Product is more sustainable) could contain environmental advertising
If the claims are not supported, they could land the brand in a solitary class
NAD action or Federal Trade Commission challenge

Butterball: Definitive Claims Conveying an General
Environmental Benefit Message versus Aspirational Claims

First, Butterball, a turkey, was claimed to be at fault.
Producer, as stated in its 2018 Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR).
Report on its environmental practices. Animal Outlook, a
Non-profit animal protection charity brought a NAD Challenge
Butterball argues that statements about environment are false
As well as other statements, the report carries responsibility
Concerning humane treatment of turkeys and claims that they were
“Natural” was not supported and therefore misleading.
Butterball’s CSR-reportClaimButterball is “making”
“Good food in the most sustainable and responsible way”
It “recognizes its obligation to protect the
planet.” Animal Outlook argued these claims conveyed
Butterball “exceeds the industry” with unsubstantiated claims
Standards for environmental stewardship that protect the environment
In all aspects of its business, and uses environment-friendly materials
practices.” Relying onFTC Green GuidesThe NAD reminded us.
Advertisers: “Marketers should not make unqualified decisions.”
“Ecological benefit claims”[b]It is highly recommended.
It is unlikely that marketers will be able to support all reasonable claims.
These claims can be “interpretations”. . The NAD also noted the following:
According to the FTC, the Green Guides were updated in the most recent revision.
“Sustainability” does not refer to “any single environmental factor.”

With these principles in view, the NAD negotiated with Animal
Outlook: The term “sustainable” is used when it is used in
The phrase “the most responsible” is used in connection with this sentence
Consumers could interpret “sustainable way” as meaning that it is:
“Butterball’s practices have been optimized in relation to their…”
Impact on the Environment” is a claim that has not been supported by the
Evidence in the record Thus, the NADRecommendationButterball discontinued production
This phrase can be modified to avoid conveying an unqualified general.
environmental claim.

Butterball claims, in contrast, that it “recognizes its…”
“Responsibility to protect the Earth,” the NAD turned towards its
ArgumentationAspirationalThese claims are
Advertising, arguing this statement denotes an objective to improve
Butterball does not endorse environmental practices.
Already achieved a certain level of sustainable business
practices. The NAD concluded that the efforts and improvements were worthwhile.
Butterball’s CSR Report (e.g.
Reduction in waste per pound, reducing environmental footprint
These results (reduced electricity usage) were sufficient.
Support the “vague non-specific ambitions” of
These claims are sufficient to support a
“definitive and general environmental benefit claim”

Georgia-Pacific: Qualifiers Placement
‘Sustainable’ Claims Is Key

InGeorgia-PacificThe NAD outlined a more
Specific rules for the use of the term “sustainable”
advertising. There is the NADchallengedenvironmental claims
Georgia-Pacific advertised its bath tissue products in ads
Include the statement: “Premium comfort made
“Premium design with the environment in” and “sustainablely”.
mind.” Turning, once more, to theFTC Green GuidesAccording to the NAD,
“With respect to general environmental messages
Marketers should use clear, prominent qualifiers
That limits the claim on a specific benefit or group of benefits.
This means that the general environmental benefit claim is unqualified
Place it in a safe place.ContextThat
Accordingly, the term’s meaning is limited to a specific context
Environment benefits

Accordingly to the NAD, the front of The
Advertiser’s package: “Premium comfort made”
The qualifying criteria were not sufficient to support the “sustainablely” claim.
Language detailing the specific environmental benefits. But on the
NAD discovered that the same general was found in the back of the package
The sustainability claim was “more closely tied to the qualifying
Language” about the manufacturing process of the advertiser
contribution to healthy forests, and that iteration
So substantiated. The “premium design with” is also supported.
Advertiser claims that “environment in mind”
Website was appropriately limited in terms of specific claims when it was
A prominent “learn More” link is included.
Advertisers can direct consumers to their sustainability page.

Its decision was based on it.ButterballThe NAD
Also evaluated Georgia-Pacific’s aspirational claims (as seen in
Its sustainability page) that it plans to “plant 2 million new trees.”
trees by the end 2021.” The NADFoundThis claim was supported
The advertiser provided the projections at the time.

Everlane: What Marketers Should Care About When
Third-Party Certifications

EverlaneIncluded virgin plastic reduction, use
Recycled plastic and “safe for use”
environment”ClaimsIn connection to apparel

First, the NAD addressed Everlane’s aspirational claims.
However, it is one that “sets the standard.”[]A specific goal or message
“That requires substantiation”:
Already over 8 billion tonnes of plastic on Planetand
They’re not going anywhere. In 2018, we set out to eliminate virgins
“By 2021, plastic will be outsourced from all of our supply chains.” The NAD was found
this qualified general environmental benefit claim substantiated
The advertiser’s compliance is the main determinant of the Global
Recycled Standards (GRS) Important for the NAD was
The GRS “has established strict rules for third-party
Certification of chain of custody,” which includes third-party
Audit of individual orders to make sure that each item is correctly identified

The NAD then considered this claim, which was based upon the
Bluesign, an independent certification agency, certifies the work of advertisers
Safety of chemicals: “Safer for the Environment: This”
Bluesign-approved dyes are used to dye the product. They are safer
For dyehouse workers and for the environment.”
The NAD held that claims that relied on third-party information were generally denied.
certification”a independent certification
These standards are based on scientific standards that have been enforced and subsequently audited by the
certifier with clear indications about the seal’s origins
identifiedreasonably communicate the message that
Advertisers’ practices are consistent with the certification
Even if consumers don’t necessarily know the exact standards
“Certification is required.” Because there was no certification
Bluesign refers to an independent certification, while the NAD is an endorsement.
It was decided that consumers wouldn’t understand the “safer to the” concept.
Environment” is a claim that the practices were consistent.
Bluesign standards. Accordingly, NAD recommended
Everlane explains Bluesign certification and what it means.
It generally means.

Next, the NAD examined whether the Bluesign was being used.
This certification is used to verify chemical safety.
The “reasonable takeaways” from Everlane’s claim about its claims are that it
Clothing is safer for the environment. NAD concluded that it was.
not. Bluesign certification relied specifically on a
To measure the environmental impact of the cradle to grave life cycle, we use cradle–to-grave analysis
Impacts of materials in five areas. Only one of these was
chemistry. Everlane’s claim does not clarify this.
Chemistry was only one factor to consider when deciding on a new job.
The broad claim can be used to calculate the product’s environmental impact.
This was a poor fit to the narrower certification. Furthermore, only a
A very small percentage of Everlane’s factories and mills is owned by Everlane
Bluesign-certified and the “nascent incorporation”.
The certification was also given to Everlane’s clothing collection.
It is unclear what the claim means.

See Also


These NAD decisions are a helpful guideline for how to do it.
Advertisers should approach claims that their products/business are defective.
Practices are sustainable. Because terms like
“Sustainable” is a singular term that conveys a broad generalization.
It is not easy (or impossible) to convey the environmental benefit message.
The following guidance can be useful to support your assertions
The claims are narrowly tailored and defendable.

  • Avoid general environmental benefits claims. They are almost impossible to ignore.
    It is impossible to verify. Broad terms such as
    “Sustainable” should be used only in contexts where it is.
    It is clearly and conspicuously connected to specific environmental benefits
    (e.g., plastic reduction, carbon footprint, etc.)converting
    the statement into a qualified general environmental benefit claim,
    This is allowed, as long as it is substantiated.
  • It is often dependent on whether a claim qualifies.
    Advertising where the qualifier appears relative to the
    Broad “sustainable” claim. As with other types,
    A detailed explanation of the fine print on the back of a specific package
    Environmental benefits may not be sufficient to adequately qualify for a qualification
    Bold, general environmental claims plastered all over front
  • Ambitional environmental claims might not be just fantasy.
    These must be substantiated. Specification is required.
    Environment outcomes (e.g., plastics reduction by a date).
    The claim must be properly qualified and the anticipated benefits must be included.
    Environmental outcomes supported by reliable evidence For example:
    Advertisers tout their plans for a more sustainable business
    It is important to reduce carbon footprint by 2030 through practices
    These plans/projections can be substantiated by concrete plans/projections
  • Third-party certifications from credible third parties help to mitigate risk
    Making environmental claims Relying on suppliers
    Third-party auditing mechanisms are included in certifications
    Suppliers and chain of custody will be much more valuable for
    You must back up your claims. Marketers should ensure that they do this.
    The certification is a great fit for the advertising claim. For
    For example, if a certification supports only one aspect of reduced
    It may not be used for support of a broad range of environmental impacts.
    claim (e.g., “safer to the environment”).

The FTC has revealed that it will be revising the Green Guides
This revision could be made in 2022 and provide a more definitive standard.
Unqualified general environmental benefit claims, or even a
Advertising claims must be defined as “sustainable”.

This article contains citations to the following:
NAD case reports, available at

Original publication
InIPWatchdogFebruary 2, 2008

The purpose of this article is to provide a general overview.
guide to the subject matter Expert advice should be sought
Discuss your specific circumstances.

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