An advertisement for Persil washing liquid has been banned over “misleading” claims the product is “kinder to our planet”.
The television ad, released in March, showed beaches strewn with litter, followed by a Persil bottle and text that read “made with 50% recycled plastic”, “removes stains at 30C” and “60 minutes quick wash”.
A voiceover stated: “Tough on stains. Kinder to our planet. Dirt is good” – while the advert showed children in sunlit outdoor scenes, running through white sheets hung out to dry and a field of trees.
One viewer said the claims that Persil washing liquid is “kinder to our planet” were misleading and unsubstantiated.
Unilever, which produces Persil, said the ad demonstrated how its liquid detergents are “kinder” by saving energy – facilitating cleaning at lower temperatures, in quick washes, and using 50% recycled plastic.
However, upholding the complaint, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said claims such as “greener” or “friendlier” can only be justified if the advertised product provides an environmental benefit over other products.
It 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’.
“We concluded that the basis of the claim ‘kinder to our planet’ had not been made clear.
“Additionally, in the absence of evidence demonstrating that the full-life cycle of the product had a lesser environmental impact compared to a previous formulation, we concluded the ad was likely to mislead.”
The ASA said the ad must not appear again in its current form.
A Unilever spokeswoman said: “We are disappointed with the ASA adjudication as this TV advertisement was intended to communicate how Persil removes tough stains in quick and cold washes as well as how all Persil liquid detergent bottles now contain 50% recycled plastic.
“We are committed to making ongoing improvements to all our products to make them more sustainable and will continue to look at how we can share this with our shoppers.”