Oatly, a popular plant based beverage, was recently warned not to repeat some of its advertisements in the United Kingdom. This follows complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). BBC News.
The company has been running a series advertising campaigns that compare the carbon footprints of meat and dairy to Oatlys, a plant-based beverage. The bold claims attracted attention from the public as well as the A Greener World campaign group. More than 100 complaints started to come in after the ads ran. This led to the ASA initiating an investigation.
Two television commercials portrayed children questioning their fathers decision not to drink cows milk. Oatly generated 73% less C02e when compared to milk. This was calculated from grower and grocer.
BBC News reported that the ASA stated that the television ad was misleading. Oatly based the claim by comparing Oatly Barista Edition to full cream milk. According to the ASA, consumers would understand that Oatly claims to have all its products and not just this product.
“It’s obvious that we could have been more precise in the way we described some scientific data,” stated Tim Knight, Oatly spokesperson.
To add fuel to the fire, a social-media ad campaign by the company stated that the dairy industry and meat industries emit more carbon dioxide than all of the world’s planes.
However, the ASA stated that this comparison was not fair. The company compared all the lifecycles of the meat and dairy industries, which included emissions from producing food, fertilizers, and transporting it, whereas figures from the transport industry only reflected emissions directly from vehicles.
Two Oatly advertisements were published in newspapers that stated that more than 25% of the world’s greenhouse gases are currently generated by the food industry. Meat and dairy accounts for more than half.
The ASA rebutted this claim. They said it was misleading because Oatly considered meat and dairy to include fish, eggs, and milk, while consumers might assume that it meant a narrower definition. Oatly stated that it does not intend to repeat the claim, and removed similar claims from its social media channels.
BBC News reports that the ASA has made it clear that it will take a tougher stance against firms making environmental statements. The regulator body stated last year that it would closely examine such claims and has already ruled against a Lipton tea advertisement that claimed its plastic bottles were “100% recyclable plastic”, while the small print explained that the label did not include the lid.