Oatly ads banned following complaints about environmental claims

Author: Helen Greaves

Read Time:   |  1st February 2022

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A series of ads from Oatly will not be shown again after the ASA found them to contain unsubstantiated environmental claims.


Oatly has been told not to repeat some of its adverts after complaints were made to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

The ads in question are from Oatly’s ‘Help Dad’ campaign, which used the slogan “need help talking to dad about milk?”

The ASA received 109 separate complaints about claims made in the ads.

The regulator found that the ads, first shown in January 2021, made unsubstantiated environmental claims.

The ads compared the carbon footprint of Oatly’s oat milk with milk from cows. They also made more general comparisons between vegan diets and omnivorous diets.

However, Oatly failed to provide evidence to back up most of its claims.

Speaking to the BBC, Oatly spokesman Tim Knight said, “It’s clear that we could have been more specific in the way we described some of the scientific data.

“We’re a science-based company and take pride in being precise, but we could have been clearer.”

Oatly’s environmental claims

The TV ads which attracted complaints featured a man sneaking cow’s milk into his fridge, only to be caught and questioned by his son. 

Text displayed over the ad stated that “Oatly generates 73% less CO2e vs. milk, calculated from grower to grocer”.

However, the ASA ruled that the ad was misleading as Oatly has based the claim on comparing just one of its products, Oatly Barista Edition, with full cream milk.

The ASA stated that consumers would believe the claim to include the full range of Oatly milk products. 

On social media, Oatly’s ads included the claim, “The dairy and meat industries emit more CO2e than all the world’s planes, trains, cars, boats etc., combined”.

The ASA upheld that Oatly had not made a like-for-like comparison, as it compared the full lifecycle of the meat and dairy industry, including producing feed and using fertilisers, with figures from the transport industry which only stated emissions coming directly from the vehicles. 

In print ads, Oatly claimed, “Today, more than 25% of the world’s greenhouse gases are generated by the food industry, and meat and dairy account for more than half of that”.

This was considered misleading as the ASA found that Oatly had included fish and eggs under the umbrella of “meat and dairy”, while consumers might assume that these were excluded. 

Another rejected claim was Oatly’s assertion that “Climate experts say cutting dairy and meat products from our diets is the single biggest lifestyle change we can make to reduce our environmental impact”.

While the ASA considered the source of this information – by researcher Joseph Poore – to be of good quality, the claim was rejected on the grounds that consumers would assume that the claim was backed up by several experts rather than just one. 

One further claim that “If everyone in the world adopted a vegan diet, it would reduce food’s annual greenhouse emissions by 6.6bn metric tons (a 49% reduction)” also received complaints that were not upheld.

The ASA said that this claim was successfully backed up by Joseph Poore’s research and a report from the Institute for Climate Economics. 

We all want to reduce our carbon footprint, this vegan meal plan will help you do it the tasty way

Source: BBC

Written by

Helen Greaves

Helen has been vegan since 2018 and has a background in vegan food marketing and social media. She's mother to a mischief of rats, and loves to spend her spare time making vegan cakes and bakes.

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