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    Ad watchdog reprimands Unilever over Persil environmental claims

    The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld a complaint against Unilver over misleading environmental claims in a TV ad.

    The ad for Persil washing liquid, seen on 31 March, had a voiceover stating “kinder to our planet” which the complaint said was a misleading claim and needed to be substantiated in the ad.

    In its response, Unilever said the ad showed how Persil continually improved their products to be kinder to the planet, focusing on two specific features of their liquid detergents that made them kinder. Firstly, they were now proven to remove tough stains in a cold and quick wash first time, thus saving energy, and secondly, their plastic bottles now contained at least 50% post-consumer recycled plastic, reducing their use of virgin plastic and carbon derived from fossil fuels in packaging.

    However, the ASA noted that comparative environmental claims should provide a total environmental benefit over that of the advertiser’s previous product or competitor products, with a clear basis of comparison, adding that the basis of the comparative claim “kinder” was likely to be ambiguous to viewers.

    The regulator further said that it had not seen evidence or analysis to demonstrate the overall environmental impact of the featured liquid detergents over their full life cycles, compared with Persil’s own previous products or other products, in support of the claim “kinder to our planet”.

    “We concluded that the basis of the claim “kinder to our planet” had not been made clear. Additionally, in the absence of evidence demonstrating that the full life cycle of the product had a lesser environmental impact compared to a previous formulation, we concluded the ad was likely to mislead,” it said in its ruling.

    Unilever was told that the ad must not appear again in its current form and to make the basis of environmental claims clear in future ads, and that such claims were based on the full lifecycle of the products, unless stated otherwise.

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