This Ruling forms part of a wider piece of enforcement work on climate change and the environment. The ad was identified for investigation following intelligence gathered by our Active Ad Monitoring system, which uses AI to proactively search for online ads that might break the rules.
A paid-for Google ad for Etihad Airways, seen in July 2023, stated “Etihad Airways – Book Your Flight Today […] Enjoy Great Discounts, Offers and Deals On Your Flight Bookings. Explore the World With Confidence and Total Peace Of Mind With Etihad Airways. Environmental Advocacy. Award-Winning Service”.
The ASA challenged whether the ad gave a misleading impression of the advertiser’s environmental impact.
Etihad Airways said that upon receiving notification of the complaint, they had immediately removed all references to “Environmental advocacy” from their paid-for Google search ads being delivered in the UK.
The CAP Code required that absolute environmental claims must be supported by a high level of substantiation.
The ASA considered that the claims that Etihad allowed consumers to explore the world with “Total Peace Of Mind”, alongside the phrase “Environmental Advocacy”, would be understood by consumers to mean that Etihad actively worked to protect the environment and, consequently, consumers could use their services with “Total Peace Of Mind” with regard to the environmental impact of doing so. We therefore expected to see a high level of evidence, which showed how they offered consumers total peace of mind about the environmental impact of using their service.
We understood that air travel produced high levels of both CO2 and non-CO2 emissions, which were making a substantial contribution to climate change. We also understood that there were currently no initiatives or commercially viable technologies in operation within the aviation industry that would adequately substantiate absolute green claims, such as that Etihad were providing consumers with “Total Peace Of Mind” when travelling by air, and engaging in “Environmental Advocacy”, as we considered consumers would interpret them in this context.
While we welcomed Etihad’s decision to remove the phrase “Environmental advocacy” from future ads, we had not seen any evidence that they were engaged in such advocacy, or that they actively worked to protect the environment in a way that meant consumers could use their services with “Total Peace Of Mind” with regard to the environmental impact of doing so. We therefore concluded that the ad gave a misleading impression of Etihad’s environmental impact, and that the ad breached the Code.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), and 11.1 and 11.3 (Environmental claims).
The ad must not appear again in the form complained about. We told Etihad Airways to ensure that their ads did not give a misleading impression of the impact caused by travelling with the airline, and that robust substantiation was held to support them.