Article by Shaznee Seraj
Innocent’s animated TV advertisement “Little Drink, Big Dreams” banned for claiming its drinks helps the environment.
Innocent’s 2021 animated advertisement “Little Drinks, Big Dreams” has been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for claiming its drinks “help the environment”. The ASA ruled against the advertisement on the grounds the advertisement exaggerated the environmental benefit after 26 complainants, including Plastic Rebellion, challenged the statement by calling the advertisement “misleading.” 
What makes the advertisement “misleading”?
The advertisement includes a cast of characters singing a catchy tune about “cleaning up” the earth to emphasise aiming “for a healthy, happy planet,” as stated in a 2021 press release. According to ASA, much of the concern stems from the advertisement’s depiction of Innocent’s products. ASA further commented “the advertisement firstly presented a depiction of a damaged planet and brown food. It then transitioned to visuals of the earth being ‘fixed up’ while Innocent drinks are consumed, along with images of Innocent products portraying people and animals relaxing in a green surrounding. The advertisement was seen as “misleading” as it implied a direct association between choosing Innocent’s products and taking positive action to help the environment which Plastic Rebellion and the other complainants strongly disagreed with.
Plastic Rebellion vs Innocent
As a result, Plastics Rebellion a.k.a @PlasticRebels on Twitter, an environmental advocacy group, began challenging the campaign last year, claiming that the advertisement implies that buying single-use plastic is “good for the environment”. In June 2021, Plastic Rebellion served a letter to the CEO of Innocent Drinks and Simon Reid, the company’s Sustainability Lead requesting the company to stop the circulation of the advertisement alongside a public apology for the misleading message of the advertisement.
According to the ASA judgement, Innocent’s use of single-use plastics “did not make claims that their use was better than other forms of packaging, and instead attempted to illustrate that recycling was better than throwing away.” Innocent also professes to be a B Corp, a certification awarded to companies that have demonstrated positive social and environmental performance. According to Innocent, the company has committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2030. As such, it had built a carbon-neutral plant that ran on renewable energy and used 75% less water for cleaning purposes.
However, ASA concluded that “Although we acknowledged that Innocent were undertaking various actions which were aimed at reducing the environmental impact of their products, that did not demonstrate that their products had a net positive environmental impact over their full lifecycles. We also noted that their drinks bottles included non-recycled plastic and that the extraction of raw materials and subsequent processing of those materials to produce the bottle would hurt the environment.”[ibid]
The particular outcome of the ruling suggests that it is vital for brands and corporations to consider every aspect of words and claims they put out to the public by analysing the message that is being conveyed. For instance, companies may consider what the average consumer would perceive of the end message as there has been a strong shift towards ESG. Consumers are starting to realise and value the importance of transparency; hence, companies must ensure it remains accountable to survive and compete in the industry.