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Advertising Rights Digest - Arm yourself with knowledge

Published on 12 May 2011

Claiming "Green"� Will Be Tested
By Willem Krog
31 Aug 2010

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With the arrival of the green decade it is fashionable for advertisers to flaunt green credentials. None other than Avis claimed on a billboard that "The greenest rental car company is the red one"� which of course made another green (that is the colour green, nothing to do with the environment) company green with envy.

The matter was referred to the ASA, courtesy of Europecar. The ASA evaluated Avis" green claims and found it to be in order. The moral of the story is that if you claim the grass is greener on your side of the fence, make darn sure it's emerald green.

Everybody is concerned about the environment and our own inability or passivity to actively support the green cause, however much it may trouble our conscience. It follows that when the conscientious consumer sees an ad of a product that claims to be green, he or she will support that product to sooth the conscience.

That is when being "green"� yields financial benefits. It creates the snowball effect greenies have been trying to achieve for so long. Being green will become main stream and in the process the minds of people will shift from apathy to activism. Advertisers who are not green will soon be marginalised.

Social movements such as being green will obviously become a bandwagon. As a result, companies who are not green will claim that they are. Some of them will utilise loopholes to sustain green claims. We all know, however, that a lie can never travel further than the truth and those companies will be caught out and humiliated in due course as their credibility will be smashed to smithereens. To use boxing parlance: "You can run, but you can't hide."�

As the industry's watchdog with substantially more teeth than the Press Ombudsman, the ASA will play a decisive role in this process. Hopefully it will culminate in a new wave of substantial complaints lodged with the ASA, instead of the petty, inconsequential and time-consuming stuff some plaster saints waste the time of the ASA with.

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