ASA neutralises Dettol's claim to be environmentally friendlier

Consumers found to be misled by ad claiming new spray refills contain '70% less plastic'.

Dettol: ASA said ad must not appear again in current form
Dettol: ASA said ad must not appear again in current form

RB cleaning brand Dettol’s recent push to highlight how it has made some products better for the environment has run into trouble after the Advertising Standards Authority banned its ad.

The 30-second TV ad, created by McCann London, opened with an empty, unbranded plastic kitchen cleaner bottle floating in the ocean.

The bottle was grabbed by a hand as the scene cut to a man cleaning in a kitchen sink. A voiceover stated: "Could we do something about the waste we produce?"

The man then refilled the plastic bottle with Dettol surface cleaner from a refill pouch and the voiceover continued: "Could refilling our spray bottles be a start? Try new Dettol Spray Refills with 70% less plastic and see what it triggers."

The ad received two complaints, which argued that because the refill pouches were not widely recyclable, the ad misleadingly implied the product was more environmentally beneficial than plastic cleaner bottles, which were widely recycled.

RB told the ASA that it understood that many local councils were not equipped to recycle the thin plastic used for refill pouches. However, it had partnered TerraCycle to allow consumers to recycle the pouch with no additional cost.

This required consumers to either search for a nearby public drop-off location to take the packaging to, create a public drop-off location by joining TerraCycle’s programme or sign up free of charge as a private collector and return packaging individually.

The ASA pointed out that the broadcast advertising code stipulates that environmental claims based on only part of an advertised product or service’s life cycle must not mislead consumers about the product or service’s total environmental impact.

It noted that, in contrast to the bottles, the refill pouches were not widely recyclable. In the context of an ad promoting a new product that was said to reduce plastic waste, it considered that this was material information and its omission was likely to mislead consumers.

The watchdog ruled the ad must not appear again in its current form.