The advertising watchdog received a single complaint about the ad, created by Los Angeles-based agency Frontline Communication Partners, from a member of the public who challenged the claim that the Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental plane "produces less than 75 grams of CO2 per passenger km". He believed that figure depended on how many people were in the plane and would be higher if some seats were unoccupied.
The complainant also said it was misleading because it was not clear which passenger class was being used in the calculation. His third issue was that it mislead readers about their likely contribution of CO2 emissions from long-haul flights to global warming because he believed that CO2 emissions accounted for only 25 to 50% of the effect of long-haul flights on global warming.
Boeing defended the ad by explaining that it used a specific data set to calculate an average passenger number, which had been established by a specialised team who had examined all available data of airline configurations and the number of seats in each class. Boeing also pointed out that the figure they had calculated was lower than the one advertised and therefore they had provided a good margin for the CO2 claim.
The Advertising Standards Authority upheld the first issue made by the complainant and said that Boeing should have qualified the CO2 figure to make it clear that it was based on full occupancy of the aircraft in order to provide consumers with enough information to understand the claim in context.
Boeing was told not to repeat the ad in its present form in a media for non-aviation industry members.