Unilever has suffered a major blow after Britain yesterday banned an advertisement of one of its laundry detergents brands, Persil, over misleading environmental claims.
Through a statement, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said the television advert, which claimed Persil was “kinder to our planet”, had failed to demonstrate environmental benefits.
“We concluded that the basis of the claim ‘kinder to our planet’ had not been made clear. Additionally, in the absence of evidence demonstrating that the full life cycle of the product had a lesser environmental impact compared to a previous formulation, we concluded the ad was likely to mislead,” the ASA said in a statement.
The advert which features children picking up litter on rivers and beaches stated that Persil bottles were made with 50-per cent recycled plastic and that the liquid detergent was cleaned at low temperatures.
In response to the ruling, Unilever said that they are disappointed with the ASA adjudication on the TV advertisement.
“We are committed to making on-going improvements to all our products to make them more sustainable and will continue to look at how we can share this with our shoppers,” stated Unilever.
Recently, the firm was among food brands in the UK for the level of salt, fat, and sugar level in their foods.
According to researchers from Action on Salt, the products from the brands are considered unhealthy and were awarded a red colour-coded warning label under the nutrients scoring system.
In 2020, the giant company was hit by a wave of criticism for promoting whiter skin as the ideal standard of beauty through its brand, Fair & Lovely.
The Indian subsidiary of Unilever renamed the brand “Fair & Lovely” as “Glow and Lovely,” a move that was met with backlash on social media.
According to critics, it was merely a cosmetic change for a product that promotes harmful beauty standards.
Hindustan Unilever Ltd. announced the rebrand of Fair & Lovely, which will now be known as Glow & Lovely for women and Glow & Handsome for men.
“We are making our skincare portfolio more inclusive and want to lead the celebration of a more diverse portrayal of beauty,” said HUL Chairman and Managing Director Sanjiv Mehta in a statement.
In the same year, the firm pulled all its TRESemmé haircare products from South African retail stores for 10 days as a show of remorse for a “racist” ad, the consumer group said in a joint statement with an opposition political party.
The advert described images of African black hair as “frizzy and dull,” and “dry and damaged” while a white woman’s hair was referred to as “normal”.
It caused an outcry on social media and sparked protests led by the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) in a country where unfair treatment of black hair evokes painful memories of prejudice during apartheid.
The then-government used a “pencil test” to determine someone’s racial identity: a pencil was inserted into a person’s hair and if it did not fall, that person was considered not white.