Ad Alert

Oatly’s Environmental Claims

Oat milk company's environmental claims come under fire.

Ad Alert

Oatly’s Environmental Claims

Before debuting its “Wow, No Cow” commercial to an American audience during the Super Bowl last year, Oatly ran an ad in a London magazine with the headline “No egg-scuses.” The oat milk company claimed in accompanying text:

Climate experts say cutting dairy and meat products from our diets is the single biggest lifestyle change we can make to reduce our environmental impact.

But according to an inquiry by the U.K.’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) posted last week, this wasn’t the opinion of multiple climate experts, but rather that of a single climate expert who had published a meta-analysis on the environmental impact of various food production systems.

Moreover, the ASA noted that the actual quote from this climate expert, Joseph Poore, included a “probably” that Oatly omitted from its claim: “A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth.”

Because the ad “overstated what the evidence supported,” the ASA said it must not appear again in its current form.

The ad was one of several Oatly ads containing environmental claims that the ASA investigated and found misleading after receiving more than 100 complaints, including one from A Greener World, a nonprofit that promotes sustainable farming.

There was one challenged claim that the ASA did find Oatly could support. It appeared alongside the “Climate experts” claim in the magazine ad and stated, “If everyone in the world adopted a vegan diet, it would reduce food’s annual greenhouse emissions by 6.6bn metric tons (a 49% reduction).”

When an ad makes something sound better for the environment than it actually is, that is called greenwashing. Find more of our coverage on the topic here.

Our Ad Alerts are not just about false and deceptive marketing issues, but may also be about ads that, although not necessarily deceptive, should be viewed with caution. Ad Alerts can also be about single issues and may not include a comprehensive list of all marketing issues relating to the brand discussed.

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