Persil advert banned for misleading environmental claims

Unilever have responded to the comment made by the ASA

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A Unilever advert for their product Persil has been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for misleading environmental claims.

A voiceover on the advert stated, “At Persil, we know that change doesn’t just happen in the comments section”, as the ad showed a woman writing “#plantmoretrees”, and scrolling through social media and clicking “Sad”.

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It then featured children collecting plastic litter from rivers and ocean waves on a beach, followed by a shot of muddy hands and a boy in a boat wiping his hands on his t-shirt. The voiceover stated, “For real change, we all need to roll up our sleeves and get dirty.”

The complaint received by the ASA challenged whether the claims that Persil washing liquid was “kinder to our planet” were misleading and could be substantiated.

An ASA spokesperson said: "Although we acknowledged Persil were undertaking actions to reduce the environmental impact of their products, we had not seen evidence or analysis to demonstrate the overall environmental impact of the featured liquid detergents over their full-life cycles, compared with Persil’s own previous products or other products, in support of the claim ‘kinder to our planeT’.”

According to the ASA, Unilever UK Ltd t/a Persil said the ad began with a message that action was needed to effect change and reduce impact on the environment, and then showed how Persil continually improved their products to be kinder to the planet.

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They said the ad focused on two specific features of their liquid detergents that made them kinder.

Firstly, they were now proven to remove tough stains in a cold and quick wash first time, with no need to re-wash. Persil said they had conducted full stain removal testing on a variety of stains, materials and in different wash conditions for the products featured in the ad, including at 30°C in a 60-minute wash cycle.

They stated it was well documented that reducing temperature reduced carbon emissions, and highlighted a news article by Which? reporting that washing clothes at 30°C rather than at 40°C used 38% less energy. They said the ad helped to promote washing at lower temperatures to consumers.

The full response from Unilever can be viewed on the ASA website.