Are Your Ads Guilty of “Greenwashing”
While marketing your company as “green” has amazing benefits, be wary of misrepresenting your “greenness” (i.e., “greenwashing”), which can damage your credibility and make you susceptible to legal claims for false advertising.
Think it can’t happen to you? Cases in pointe:
ConAgra, a food products company, has faced a lawsuit for labeling its cooking oils as “natural” even though they are made with genetically modified ingredients. Ouch.
Sigg, the maker of the Swiss-based reusable bottle, once touted to its customers that its products were BPA-free, even though the bottles contained the chemical in their liner. After this became public, sales dropped. No word on whether they will be facing any legal liability for false advertising.
Unfortunately, “greenwashing” may just be getting worse. The Greenwashing Report from TerraChoice Group, an environmental marketing agency, has stated that more than 95% of all consumer products claiming to be green were found to commit at least one of the “seven sins of greenwashing”, which include not providing evidence (or a basis of their claims), being vague, or, yikes, flat-out lying.
So, how can you avoid greenwashing in your company’s advertising? First, keep your messages consistent and support every claim with incontrovertible evidence. Make sure you are able to back up each claim of “eco-friendly”, “99% recyclable”, etc. Next, be transparent and honest if your claims are called into question. Third, if you have any questions about what claims you may be able to make, seek out advice from an advertising attorney.