Background

Summary of Council decision:

Two issues were investigated, both of which were Upheld.

Ad description

Claims on a website and Instagram post for abnormal., a nutrition drinks company, seen on 25 March 2021:

a. A web page on www.abnormal.io, headed “What is abnormal.”, included an image of a plastic water bottle on a beach beside the text “plastic free. We’re big on zero waste and caring about the planet we live on for a short while. abnormal. comes in paper-based packaging. We use a ground-breaking, renewable material that means you can simply recycle it as part of your paper-stream kerbside collection. Same story for abnormal. box, which by the way, use an innovative design to ensure no tape or adhesive are needed in its construction”.

b. An Instagram post on @abnormal.uk’ included the caption “Zero meal prep, Zero kitchen time, Zero waste, Zero plastic”.

Issue

The complainant, who understood that the advertiser’s packaging contained a plastic lining making it difficult to recycle, challenged whether the following claims were misleading and could be substantiated:

1. “plastic free” in ad (a); and

2. “Zero plastic” in ad (b).

Response

1. & 2. Class Delta Ltd t/a Abnormal. did not respond to the ASA’s enquiries

Assessment

1. & 2. Upheld

The ASA was concerned by Class Delta’s lack of response and apparent disregard for the Code, which was a breach of CAP Code (Edition 12) rule  1.7 1.7 Any unreasonable delay in responding to the ASA's enquiries will normally be considered a breach of the Code.  (Unreasonable delay). We reminded them of their responsibility to respond promptly to our enquiries and told them to do so in future.

The ASA considered that consumers would interpret the claims “plastic free” and “zero plastic” to mean that the product packaging did not contain any plastic. We also considered the additional claim “zero waste”, in both ads, would be similarly understood in the context of the ads. We therefore expected to see evidence to show that all components of the product packaging met these criteria. However, we received no information from Abnormal about the make-up of their product packaging. In the absence of such evidence, we concluded that the claims had not been substantiated and were therefore misleading.

On those points the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules  3.1 3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.  (Misleading advertising),  3.7 3.7 Before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication, marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that consumers are likely to regard as objective and that are capable of objective substantiation. The ASA may regard claims as misleading in the absence of adequate substantiation.  (Substantiation), and  11.3 11.3 Absolute claims must be supported by a high level of substantiation. Comparative claims such as "greener" or "friendlier" can be justified, for example, if the advertised product provides a total environmental benefit over that of the marketer's previous product or competitor products and the basis of the comparison is clear.  (Environmental claims).

Action

The ads must not appear again in their current form. We told Class Delta Ltd t/a abnormal. to ensure that their future marketing communications did not state that their products and packaging were plastic-free, had zero plastic, or were zero waste where they contained components that did not meet those criteria. We referred the matter to CAP’s Compliance team

CAP Code (Edition 12)

1.7     3.1     3.7     11.3    


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