Last Etihad ad campaign Airways was banned in the UK due to allegations of literal brainwashing. The local Advertising Standards Agency found that the advertisement misleads customers about the environmental impact of aviation.
Under UK advertising regulations, environmental claims must be supported by strong concrete evidence, and while the ASA acknowledged the measures taken by Etihad to reduce its environmental impact, it concluded that their portrayal in advertising exaggerated their actual measures, and the information provided was clearly not enough. .
The ASA's decision was announced on April 12, although the two social media ads in question date back to October 2022. Etihad included text in the ad that said, “We understand the impact flying has on the environment. That's why we're taking a bolder approach to sustainable aviation.”
After review, the ASA ruled that the advertisement did not contain sufficient information to support claims of environmental friendliness. The ruling states, in part: “While we have noted that Etihad is taking steps to reduce the environmental impact of its services, we understand that there are currently no initiatives or commercially viable technologies in the aviation industry that adequately justify the notion of absolute sustainability, such as “sustainable aviation”, how we think consumers will interpret the content of the advertisement.
In response to this decision, Etihad expressed its disappointment, stating: “Etihad Airways is disappointed with the ASA's decision. Sustainability is a key priority for Etihad, which is pursuing a comprehensive research and development program to decarbonize aviation, working to reduce aviation's environmental impact, investing billions in its fleet of modern, fuel-efficient aircraft, sustainable aviation fuel research, and offsetting of carbon emissions and reforestation.
Despite the failure of its advertising campaign, Etihad hopes to achieve zero carbon emissions by 2050. The airline plans to do this through a phased approach, reducing emissions by 20% by 2025 and 50% by 2035.
The airline recently reached a milestone where 40% of its flights at Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) ) are served by electric vehicles — a figure that will only increase.
This is not the first time the airline has been criticized by the UK ASA. Earlier this year, the agency also found German flag carrier Lufthansa's June 2022 advert to be misleading due to its environmental claims.