ASA bans inconsistent green ad of Finnair

Advertising Standard Authority (ASA) had banned a Finnair ad claiming that it is eco-smart for travellers to use the Finnish airline. The watchdog also advised that airlines planning to promote their green credentials should pick their ad words carefully.

ASA banned the offending Finnair poster after receiving two complaints. The ad shows an Airbus plane flying over the coastline with a slogan stating: ‘Be eco-smart. Choose Finnair’s brand new fleet’. Complainants argued that the word ‘eco-smart’ implied that taking a plane was eco-friendly and that Finnair had not yet proven that its fleet was greener than other airlines.

However, Finnair defended that it did not intend to say that flying was eco-friendly, arguing that what the ad meant was that to choose an air carrier that sought to cut its environmental impact was ‘eco-smart’. The airline company also added that Finnair offers greener alternative than other airlines as its long haul routes to Asia via Helsinki are more direct, allowing its aircrafts to fly with lesser fuel.

Finland’s national airline also informed that its aircrafts have an average age of not more than five years, making Finnair’s fleet one of the most fuel-efficient in operation.

However, ASA supported the complaints and banned the ad. It ruled that while the Finnish airline did not intend to say that flying is a green mode of transportation, ad readers were likely to interpret the word ‘eco-smart’ as a claim analogous to eco-friendly. ASA had also disagreed Finnair’s claim, saying that taking two short haul flights is still more fuel-efficient than any long haul flight.

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