The UK-based Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is a body that regulates truthfulness in advertising. We've already seen the authority step in to a number of disputes regarding sustainability claims — including banning a deceptive Lexus ad; a greenwashing campaign for conventional cotton, and claims from Ryanair that aviation accounted for only 2% of global greenhouse emissions. But it's not just corporations that the ASA has on their toes — it also waded in to criticize erroneous claims made by a pamphlet for an anti-wind farm group recently. What could be behind this sudden flurry of concern around irresponsible advertising on environmental issues — well it seems that public complaints on this matter are up. Way up:
"The number of complaints lodged to the advertising standards watchdog relating to environmental or green claims has more than quadrupled in the past year, according to a report released this week. The annual report from the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) shows that in 2007 the ASA received 561 complaints about environmental claims in 410 adverts, compared with just 117 complaints about 83 adverts the year before — a more than fourfold increase. The ASA has already censured several high-profile companies including Suzuki, Shell, Ryanair and Toyota for the practice of "greenwash" — where companies are found to have misled consumers on their environmental practices as a business or of the particular benefits of a product or service."
While some will no doubt complain about censorship, we tend to view this trend as encouraging. Freedom of expression should not be used as a license for deception, deceit or fraud, so we're only too glad to see that the ASA exists as a body to keep advertising honest.
::The Guardian::via site visit::