Britain’s official advertising watchdog has banned an advert by the German flag carrier Lufthansa for making ‘misleading’ environmental claims over a promise that the airline was ‘protecting the future’ of the planet.
The advert appeared on Lufthansa’s website in June 2021 as part of its sustainability #MakeChangeFly campaign. But the slogan “Lufthansa Group. Connecting the world. Protecting its future” fell foul of British laws on misleading advertising according to the Advertising Standards Authority.
In a judgement published on Wednesday, the regulator 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 regulator said Lufthansa’s choice of imagery with the slogan superimposed on a picture made up of half plane and half globe could lead to confusion.
Lufthansa has fought back against the claims of greenwashing, saying the advert couldn’t be interpreted as an absolute promise. In response to the ASA investigation, the airline claimed the slogan was simply a mission statement intended to draw people to a website to raise awareness of the environmental issues related to flying.
In its report, however, the ASA concluded that consumers could be led to believe that Lufthansa had already taken significant mitigating steps to protect the environment. In reality, many of Lufthansa’s sustainability initiatives will only start delivering results years or decades into the future.
“We also understood that there were currently no environmental initiatives or commercially viable technologies in the aviation industry which would substantiate the absolute green claim “PROTECTING ITS FUTURE”, as we considered consumers would interpret it,” the report explained.
“We told Lufthansa to ensure that the basis of future environmental claims was made clear and did not give a misleading impression of the impact caused by travelling with the airline and that robust substantiation was held to support them,” the ASA report concluded.
Last month, Lufthansa faced criticism for launching a range of ‘Green Fares’ that the airline claims will help passengers enjoy “more climate-friendly flying” through the use of carbon offsets and sustainable aviation fuel.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.