Ads encouraging consumers to “fix the planet” by choosing Innocent drinks have been banned for exaggerating the products’ environmental benefits.
TV, YouTube, and video-on-demand ads showed animated characters singing the lyrics, “We’re messing up the planet.” We are really wrong,” against the backdrop of buildings and vehicles spewing pollutants, litter and dirty rivers.
An otter then pulls out a guitar and continues, “OK, let’s try this instead,” then sings, “Let’s go fix the planet.” Fix it real good,” as the background shifts to a brighter, greener color palette with images of planted trees.
The song ends: “Reduce. Reuse. To recycle. Because there is no planet B. If we take care of nature, it will take care of me”, accompanied by images of people relaxing in green surroundings, many next to bottles of Innocent drinks .
At the end of the commercial, a voice-over reads: “Innocent. Small drinks with big dreams for a healthier planet.
Some 26 viewers, one of whom identified himself as representing the direct action group Plastics Rebellion, complained that the adverts had misled consumers by exaggerating the products’ full environmental benefit.
Innocent said the advertisements did not suggest buying the products themselves would result in a positive environmental impact, but were instead a statement about its broader environmental goals.
The company, which is owned by Coca-Cola, has warned the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) that continuing the complaints could prevent other brands and manufacturers from taking action and communicating the positive environmental actions they are taking. .
Acknowledging that it uses packaging made from single-use plastic, Innocent said its goal as a company is to use the minimum amount of plastic while supporting recycling, and its ambition is to recycle 70 % of its bottles by 2023.
They also said they were working on developing more sustainable packaging.
ASA said many consumers would interpret the general presentation of the advertisements to mean that buying Innocent products was a choice that would have a positive environmental impact.
The watchdog noted that Innocent’s beverage bottles include non-recycled plastic and that extracting raw materials and further processing those materials to produce the bottle would have a negative impact on the environment.
He said: “While we recognized that Innocent was taking various actions to reduce the environmental impact of its products, this did not demonstrate that their products had a net positive environmental impact over their full life cycle. Because the advertisements implied that buying Innocent products was a choice that would have a positive environmental impact when it was not, we concluded that the advertisements were misleading.
Innocent said: “We are disappointed to see ASA’s decision. Our advertising has always aimed to highlight important global environmental issues and the need for collective action to bring about change. We transparently share more about the work we do on sustainability on our website.
“As with any new guideline, we would like to work with the ASA and other brands to understand how to comply with it in order to continue the conversation on these important topics.”
Plastics Rebellion said in a statement: “Innocents are insincere about the dangers of the threat plastic poses to human health and the environment, while trivializing the horrific scale of the problem by repeating the mantra: ‘Reduce, reuse, recycle”.
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