ASA: Shell Environmental Claims Violate Advertising Rules

by | Aug 14, 2008

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oil_sands.jpgThe UK’s Advertising Standards Authority has ruled that Royal Dutch Shell violated advertising rules by claiming in a newspaper ad that two oil projects in Canada and the U.S. involved sustainable forms of energy, The Canadian Press reports.

The advertisement focused on two of Shell’s projects. One involves exploration in Canada’s oil sands where bitumen, a tar-like form of petroleum, can be extracted and upgraded to synthetic crude oil. The ad also mentioned Shell’s plan to build one of the United States’ largest oil refineries in Texas.

World Wildlife Fund UK challenged the oil sands ad, saying that by harnessing the potential of the Canadian oil sands deposit, Shell wasn’t helping to provide a sustainable future and that by helping to build the largest refinery in the U.S., Shell wasn’t helping sustainable energy production.

The ASA ruled that the ad was misleading, failing on substantiation, truthfulness, and environmental claims. According to the ruling, the ad must not appear again in its current form.

Shell says the ad was a one-off and would not be repeated.

This isn’t the first time Shell has faced criticism over its advertising. Last year, Friends of the Earth Europe filed simultaneous complaints to the national advertising standards authorities of Belgium, the  Netherlands, and the UK about a Shell advertisement which Friends of the Earth says depicts the outline of an oil refinery emitting flowers rather than smoke and claims that it uses its “waste CO2 to grow flowers and [its] waste sulphur to make concrete.”

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