A website for health and beauty product provider Neal’s Yard Remedies, www.nealsyardremedies.com, seen on 9 April 2019, featured two pages. The first page featured a video within which the London Beekeeper’s Association spoke of their commitments to improving the environment for bees and to greater public awareness. On-screen text stated “You can help … planting bee-friendly plants such as Blue Tansy, Lavender and Sunflowers”, “Give bees the habitat they need to survive” and “Neal’s Yard Remedies are committed to supporting 50 million bees by 2020”. The second page featured the “Bee Lovely All Over Balm” and featured text which stated “Every Bee Lovely purchase counts”. The page featured a timeline-style image of how product purchases fed into the “Save the Bees Campaign”. The image included text which stated “3% of Bee Lovely sales go to bee friendly charities” and “Help us support 50 million bees by 2020”.
The complainant, who believed that the Save The Bees Campaign involved domestic beekeeping which endangered wild bee populations by spreading disease and increasing competition for food, challenged whether the ad misleadingly implied the campaign was beneficial to bees.
Neal’s Yard (Natural Remedies) Ltd said the Save The Bees campaign began in 2011 and its intention was to raise awareness of bee decline and bee-supporting charities through external communications including their Bee Lovely products. They said the current primary campaign goal was to provide healthy hive and habitats for 50 million bees by 2020. Neal’s Yard said that to date they had donated to various charities in support of different bee populations. They said the material on their website, including the video, did not refer specifically to domestic beekeeping, and customers were directed to information on the history of the campaign as well as their current initiatives and third-party collaborations. Neal’s Yard said they had recently donated money for an educational kit for use in schools, educating young people about bees, in the hope that people would be motivated to take further action on supporting bee populations in general, not directly towards beekeeping. The video was a way of raising awareness of bee species and how they could be supported. While they used some shots of urban beekeepers, the video was not specifically about honeybees; it referred to the decline of all bee species by 51% and featured a bumblebee in the closing shot. The wildflower-shot used was an example of how to support various species of bees as the plants shown provided good forage for different species.
The ASA considered that consumers would understand from the material on the two web pages, that Neal’s Yard supported various initiatives which worked towards the conservation of bees and the preservation of bee farming and the beekeeping industry. We understood from the information provided that Neal’s Yard contributed to a number of initiatives that aimed to conserve bee populations and increase public awareness around the issues related to the decline of bees, both in the wild and domestically. The video, created in collaboration with the London Beekeepers Association, for example, listed a number of factors which influenced the decline of bee populations, such as habitat loss, pests and diseases and intensive farming practices, and then described how viewers could help wild bee populations by planting “bee-friendly plants” and creating new natural habitats.
The product page informed consumers that Neal’s Yard donated money to a project led by international bee charity Bees for Development and explained how money raised through sales of products in their Bee Lovely range supported such projects. The page referenced the increase in yield and income received by farmers in Ghana who sold honey as part of the projects.
We also noted the educational programmes which Neal’s Yard contributed to which sought to develop the public’s understanding of the animal. We understood the complainant’s concerns regarding the potentially detrimental effect of domestic bee keeping on wild populations ‒ making them vulnerable to disease, increasing competition for food and causing stress on colonies through the use of artificial habitats. However, we considered the ad was unlikely to mislead consumers about the nature of the campaign in respect of its efforts towards the conservation of bees and its contribution towards bee farming and the beekeeping industry.
In light of the above, we concluded that the ad was not misleading. We investigated the ad under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising) and 11.1 (Environmental claims), but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.