Environmental "Green" Advertising & Claims
Marketers are eager to promote the environmental benefits of products, services, and even corporate business practices to consumers who are increasingly seeking to “buy green.” But pressure is being brought by consumer and environmental groups to ensure that green claims are substantiated.
Advertisers face two primary challenges in environmental marketing:
- legal challenges to environmental claims from the FTC and state attorneys general (especially California and New York) and competitor challenges at NAD and under the Lanham Act regarding substantiation of green marketing claims; and
- the confusion surrounding green terms, such as “renewable,” “sustainable,” and “environmentally friendly,” making it difficult for consumers to understand what they are buying and for the significant benefits of truly environmental friendly products to stand out.
The advertising law attorneys at Olshan represent companies that produce, market, and distribute green products in the U.S. and across the globe. We assist our clients through every stage of their advertising campaigns – from advertising review that can minimize the risk of competitor challenges, to representation in regulatory investigations, to defense in regulatory or advertising litigation.
We also help our clients protect their business interests by bringing competitor challenges against companies whose environmental claims and product labeling are deficient.
The Revised “Green Guides”
The FTC has revised its Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims, also known as the “Green Guides.” These revisions have resulted in increased regulatory scrutiny. The Guides clarify prior guidance relating to compostable, ozone, recyclable, recycled content, and source reduction claims. The revised Guides contain new sections on certifications and seals of approval, as well as on claims using the language “carbon offsets,” “free-of,” “non-toxic,” “made with renewable energy,” and “made with renewable materials.”
Advertisers seeking to make green-type claims must be aware of the FTC’s latest guidance and enforcement activities. For example:
- Are the environmental claims too broad or unqualified?
- Did the environmental claim play a significant role in the consumer’s decision to buy the product or service?
- Was there “competent and reliable” evidence to substantiate the claim of environmental benefit?
While there are many shades of “green,” our advertising attorneys help clients develop environmentally-friendly claims that comply with standards articulated by the FTC, self-regulatory bodies, and environmental watchdog groups. We regularly review ad copy and substantiation to help ensure compliance with these bodies’ standards as well as substantiation and truth-in-advertising requirements.
Before you launch your next green campaign, contact one of the advertising law attorneys listed below:
- Complying With the New Regulatory Order: Changes in the Endorsement Testimonial Guides and Green Guides2009HBA Global Expo, New York, NY
- Avoiding GREENWASHING Accusations, Environmental Marketing Law Update2009International Intellectual Property Society, New York, New York
- Engaging in Green Marketing Without Running Afoul of Federal and State Guidelines200922nd Annual National Advanced Forum on Advertising Law, New York, NY