April 16, 2024

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British Authority Forbids Lufthansa’s Advert Claiming Greener Operations

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Lufthansa aircraft with the contentious advertisement Britain adjudged will mislead consumers

The renowned German flag carrier, Lufthansa, has been interdicted by the British advertising body, the Advertising Standards Authority, ASA, for what was termed its ‘misleading’ advertisement on environmental claims over a promise that the airline was ‘protecting the future’ of the planet.

After a series of interrogations with the airline’s management and most of its written submissions found unsatisfactory, ASA announced a ban on the advert by the German Flag Carrier with the slogan inscribed on its aircraft thus, “Lufthansa Group. Connecting the world. Protecting its future.”

According to ASA, the misleading advert appeared on Lufthansa’s website in June 2022 as part of its sustainability promotion with the hashtag #MakeChangeFly campaign.

ASA after weighing the defense of Lufthansa to the offending advertisement said the airline “fell afoul of British laws on misleading advertising”.

Lufthansa claimed that the slogan was open to interpretation, but when combined with the imagery, it should not be taken as an absolute promise about its service, particularly in relation to the environment, or that its services do not pollute the environment.

The UK advertising regulator ASA countered the airline’s defense with the declaration that, Lufthansa’s choice of imagery with the slogan superimposed on a picture made up of half of the aircraft, and half of the globe had a big potential for misinterpretation.

In the judgment, the regulatory authority said consumers were likely to interpret the slogan as an “environmental reference to how Lufthansa’s approach to aviation was protecting the future of the world”.

The ASA was of the opinion that the advert gave a misleading impression of the advertiser’s environmental impact, as the claim in isolation, was ambiguous and not clearly linked to climate.

ASA also was of the opinion that the statement “Protecting its Future” would likely be interpreted by consumers as an environmental indicator of how Lufthansa’s approach to aviation is protecting the future of the world.

However, Lufthansa argued that the slogan was open to interpretation, but when combined with the imagery, it should not be taken as an absolute promise about its service, particularly in relation to the environment, or that its services do not pollute the environment.

In its decision, the ASA weighed Lufthansa’s claim that the campaign was based on concrete steps taken to be greener, including aiming to become carbon neutral which is likely to be realized by 2050 and the project on halving CO2 emissions which may also be actualized by 2030, and noted that none had been accomplished as they were all work in progress.

ASA further stated, “however, the claim ‘Protecting its Future’ is not qualified with this information. We felt that the claim would likely be understood by consumers to mean that Lufthansa has already taken significant mitigating measures to ensure the net environmental impact of its business is not harmful”.

ASA went on with its rationale for the ban thus, “we understand that air travel causes both high carbon and non-carbon emissions that are a significant contributor to climate change. We have taken note of the initiatives and goals that Lufthansa has committed to implementing in order to achieve its stated goal, but many of these initiatives aimed to produce results for years or decades to come”.

The advertising authority also narrated, “we also understand that there are currently no environmental initiatives or commercially viable technologies in the aviation industry that would support the totally green claim ‘Protecting its Future’ in the way we expect consumers would interpret it.”

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