An ad campaign by Etihad Airways trumpeting its approach to “sustainable aviation” has been banned by the UK advertising watchdog, which ruled it was misleading consumers over the environmental impact of flying. The ruling happened in April 2023.


Extensive green marketing

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) national carrier, which has an extensive marketing strategy that includes sponsorship of Manchester City Premier League team including stadium naming rights, ran two Facebook adverts promoting its green credentials.

Acknowledging the impact flying has on the environment, the ads promoted the airline’s “louder, bolder approach to sustainable aviation”, including pushing the idea that choosing Etihad was a “conscious choice for the planet” and promoting initiatives such as cutting back on single-use plastic cutlery.


Advertising Standards Authority: “Etihads claims exaggerated“

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) began an investigation into the campaign – which used imagery including plants, the Earth and text stating Etihad was “Environmental airline of the year 2022“ – over concerns its claims were misleading by “exaggerating the environmental benefits of flying” with the airline.

The ASA said that environemntal claims such as “sustainable aviation“ must be backed up by a high level of evidence, under UK marketing regulations. “There are currently no initiatives or commercially viable technologies in operation within the aviation industry which would adequately substantiate an absolute green claim such as “sustainable avation“ as we considered consumers would interpret it in this context. We concluded, therefore, that the claim exaggerated the impact that flying with Etihad would have on the environment and the ads breached the [advertising] code“, the ASA ruled.