Lufthansa In Trouble For Misleading “Green” Ad

Lufthansa In Trouble For Misleading “Green” Ad

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Lufthansa is in trouble with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), which is the UK’s regulator for advertising. This is an interesting case…

The ad that got Lufthansa in trouble

The ASA takes issue with a Lufthansa advertisement that was published in June 2022, which shows an imagine of the front of an Airbus A350 inflight. The bottom half of the plane is represented by an image of the earth from space. The ad includes the following text:

“LUFTHANSA GROUP, CONNECTING THE WORLD. PROTECTING ITS FUTURE. #MakeChangeFly”

The ad that got Lufthansa in trouble

The ASA has decided that this ad violates the UK’s advertising laws. The ASA is arguing that this ad gives consumers a misleading impression of the environmental impact of flying, and is demanding that Lufthansa in the future ensure that the basis of environmental claims is made clear, and doesn’t give misleading impressions. The ASA argues that:

  • Laws in the UK require that absolute environmental claims be supported by a high level of substantiation, and that’s not the case here; so the disagreement primarily comes down to whether Lufthansa was making an absolute claim
  • The claim “protecting its future” was likely to be interpreted by consumers as an environmental reference to how Lufthansa’s approach to aviation was protecting the future of the world, given that the text was superimposed on a picture of the globe
  • Lufthansa’s claims about the campaign include aspirations to become carbon neutral by 2050 and to cut carbon emissions in half by 2030, though the campaign isn’t qualified with this information
  • Consumers would believe that Lufthansa has already taken significant mitigating steps to ensure that the net environmental impact of its business was not harmful, rather than having plans to do so in the future

Lufthansa disagrees with the ASA, and argues:

  • The ad had a hyperlink to the website makechangefly.com, which details the carrier’s initiative
  • The campaign is intended to address the need to reduce the impact of flying on the environment and make consumers aware of how Lufthansa is achieving that
  • The tagline is open to interpretation, and in conjunction with the imagery shouldn’t be understood as an absolute promise about the impact of flying on the environment
  • “Connecting the world” isn’t an absolute claim, and therefore it’s inconsistent to conclude that “protecting its future” is an absolute claim
  • The ad contained no absolute statements suggesting that flying has no impact on the environmnet

Despite Lufthansa’s retort, the ASA has upheld its decision.

My take on this case against Lufthansa

I’m not sure where exactly I stand on this particular case:

  • This ultimately comes down to whether Lufthansa was making an absolute claim or not, and I suppose that comes down to how literally one interprets things; if someone tells me they had a ton of fun doing something, I don’t assume that it necessarily involved 2,240 pounds, but maybe that’s just me
  • Ridiculous green claims have become the norm across so many industries, so I’m not even fazed by these kinds of claims anymore; maybe that’s all the more reason regulators should take more action
  • When you look at the ad in isolation, it is kind of ridiculous; airlines perform a vital service and are reducing their environmental impact over time by getting more fuel efficient aircraft, but to argue that airlines are “protecting [the] future” is a bit much

I will say that if there is something regulators are going to go after with Lufthansa, I think the carrier’s recently introduced green fares are a much better place to start. These fares are significantly more expensive than other fares, and even include bonus miles, yet Lufthansa makes no promise about how much of the revenue premium is actually going toward environmental projects. To me that’s much more concerning.

Lufthansa’s strange green fares

Bottom line

Lufthansa is in trouble with UK regulators over a recent ad about the carrier’s environmental efforts. UK regulations require that environmental claims be supported by a high level of substantiation, and regulators found that this wasn’t the case with Lufthansa’s campaign.

What do you make of the ASA’s ruling on Lufthansa’s ad campaign?

Conversations (14)
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  1. vlcnc Guest

    This was a ludicrous ad especially with the implications from the image, so yeah they deserved to be wrapped by the ASA. Airlines do needs scrutiny with their environmental claims, because often they are ludicrous and not rooted in reality. Having said this I don't think consumers choose airlines based on this kind of marketing - this is more a defensive thing airlines pro-actively do so they can point to it when criticised about their impact on the environment.

  2. John Guest

    Any airline that has to 'buy' credibility (i.e. a Five Star rating) instead of earning it, deserves to have all its claims probed and tested. Well done, U.K. authorities.

    1. Eskimo Guest

      It's the idiots who associate and believe the phrase "Five Star rating" having credibility, and that belief forced airlines to being extorted. It's all about public perception and stupidity, rational or not.

      All the victim of marketing.
      Not only did LH pay the Greenwashing extortion.
      They also paid 5-starwashing extortion too.
      Well done, Skytrax.

  3. XPL Diamond

    I don't know if Lufthansa will be carbon neutral by 2050, but it's a fair bet that they'll still be promising their 2017 business class product.

  4. Ken Guest

    Maybe Americans are different but in Europe there is a lot more social pressure, guilt, norm to be environmentally friendly and many people started choosing products based on companies stance and effort on environmental issues. Lufthansa is trying to get some of that demand but I find the ad really misleading. I am sure there are people out there who would get tricked by this and LHs recent green fares, just trusting a big German...

    Maybe Americans are different but in Europe there is a lot more social pressure, guilt, norm to be environmentally friendly and many people started choosing products based on companies stance and effort on environmental issues. Lufthansa is trying to get some of that demand but I find the ad really misleading. I am sure there are people out there who would get tricked by this and LHs recent green fares, just trusting a big German corporate. But the fare is new and I hope in near future the regulators ban this sort of misleading way of making money from increased fare

    1. stogieguy7 Diamond

      Europeans like throwing money away and are expert at deluding themselves into feeling good about it. An easy example is Euro business class, which is a colossal ripoff. But an even easier example is throwing money into the incinerator by purchasing a "green" add on, which will ultimately do absolutely nothing for the environment. The only thing it helps is LH's bottom line and even then, it's a drop in the bucket for them.

    2. Grey Diamond

      @stogieguy7, many people would argue that US domestic 'first class' is the real waste of money. No food, no lounge, always full cabin and someone always sitting right next to you.

    3. stogieguy7 Diamond

      For one thing, we all know that US first class is really domestic business class and nobody expects it to resemble true international "First Class" as the likes of SQ or EK offer (and which has become rather rare). Given this, you may not get fed well, but you do get bigger seats and more legroom. And I'll take that any day over a crap economy seat with a 28" pitch that makes WN look like first class. Screw the (still limited) food, I want space on such flights/

  5. Aman Guest

    Agree that the allegations may be a bit “woke” but what is going on with Lufthansa?
    From their “minimalist” approach to passenger experience to misleading fares and now blatant green washing?
    Symptomatic of a tone deaf management propagating a culture of hubris.

    1. Tom Guest

      It’s absolutely nothing to do with “woke”. Yawn.

      The UK has some of the world’s strictest / most pro-consumer advertising laws where you can’t just make random claims in adverts such as this product is “the best” or “environmentally friendly” without substantiating it through hard data. It’s not like the US where you can publish whatever you like in an advert and mislead consumers by implying with an image that your chemical factory is actually...

      It’s absolutely nothing to do with “woke”. Yawn.

      The UK has some of the world’s strictest / most pro-consumer advertising laws where you can’t just make random claims in adverts such as this product is “the best” or “environmentally friendly” without substantiating it through hard data. It’s not like the US where you can publish whatever you like in an advert and mislead consumers by implying with an image that your chemical factory is actually good for the environment or whatever.

    2. Eskimo Guest

      @Tom

      Yep US is the greatest nation.
      Not only ads that tells you your chemical factory is actually good for the environment.
      You get ads that tell you how great your politicians are.
      Or ads that tell you to unionize or not unionize.

      In US not UK, would you (and lawyers) extort millions from a fast food chain because you spilled a coffee with out a warning that the coffee was hot.

      @Tom

      Yep US is the greatest nation.
      Not only ads that tells you your chemical factory is actually good for the environment.
      You get ads that tell you how great your politicians are.
      Or ads that tell you to unionize or not unionize.

      In US not UK, would you (and lawyers) extort millions from a fast food chain because you spilled a coffee with out a warning that the coffee was hot.
      As a result, everything is a Proposition 65 risk. Soon every children will get a sticker before you can cut the umbilical cord.

      Take that UK advertising laws.

  6. Airfarer Diamond

    Does anyone choose an airline based on their supposed greenie image?

    1. ConcordeBoy Diamond

      Wondered that too.

      Gonna go with "no," but then again these airlines expend so much money/time/effort into showcasing their "green" image, that I do wonder to whom it's aimed, and why... because if it wasn't either raising revenue or avoiding significant cost, the airlines wouldn't care that much about doing so.

  7. STEFFL Gold

    . . . and that entire airline Group, deserves even more trouble!
    THE most corrupt airline out there, with the craziest and stiffest rules of any western Airline, that would call themselves a 5* Carrier! ;-) ha ha ha
    Service WAS decent and PRO in the past, but by now . . . nothing but average, if at all and coming close to ANY US airline service, except that Lufthansa is still a...

    . . . and that entire airline Group, deserves even more trouble!
    THE most corrupt airline out there, with the craziest and stiffest rules of any western Airline, that would call themselves a 5* Carrier! ;-) ha ha ha
    Service WAS decent and PRO in the past, but by now . . . nothing but average, if at all and coming close to ANY US airline service, except that Lufthansa is still a lot more corrupt then most US airlines!
    Hope UK regulators will GO AFTER the airline after what that entire Lufthansa-Group is trying to get away with in recent years!
    Here the actual report from the UK:
    https://www.asa.org.uk/rulings/deutsche-lufthansa-ag-a22-1169419-deutsche-lufthansa-ag.html

    Time, to put an END to such an airline, that reminds me a lot of Piedmont Airways back in the 1980's in the US. Doing ANYTHING to shine whiter then any other competitor and trying to get rid of any competition, by merging or buying them.
    Too bad, people don't see the REAL deal on a company! ?
    Lufthansa-Group airlines is a total NO GO!
    . . . trouble is, they got more lawyers then anybody could ever fight against! WORLDWIDE.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Airfarer Diamond

Does anyone choose an airline based on their supposed greenie image?

3
stogieguy7 Diamond

Europeans like throwing money away and are expert at deluding themselves into feeling good about it. An easy example is Euro business class, which is a colossal ripoff. But an even easier example is throwing money into the incinerator by purchasing a "green" add on, which will ultimately do absolutely nothing for the environment. The only thing it helps is LH's bottom line and even then, it's a drop in the bucket for them.

2
Aman Guest

Agree that the allegations may be a bit “woke” but what is going on with Lufthansa? From their “minimalist” approach to passenger experience to misleading fares and now blatant green washing? Symptomatic of a tone deaf management propagating a culture of hubris.

2
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