The OECD workshop on protecting and empowering consumers explored the role of governments and other stakeholders in enhancing the value and effectiveness of environmental claims by advertisers aimed at consumers concerned about the environmental impact of their purchases.
In January, ICC produced a new global Framework for Responsible Environmental Marketing Communications in response to a call from industry stakeholders for guidance on how to better engage in and evaluate environmental marketing communications to ensure that consumer confidence in such claims is safeguarded.
“In developing its guidance, ICC noted the absence of internationally agreed-upon definitions of certain claims, and chose to focus on core advertising principles and tools to help advertisers assure that environmental claims are truthful, supported by science, appropriately qualified, and clear,” said Sheila Millar, Chair of the ICC Working Group on Sustainability, who spoke at the seminar.
“ICC supports the freedom to make truthful claims about environmental attributes of any product, as this will foster innovation and competition,” added Ms Millar, a partner with Keller and Heckman.
ICC also urged OECD member countries to promote awareness of the ICC guidelines and to avoid using general terms that foster confusion among consumers, including claims such as climate safe” and “environmentally friendly”.
The workshop discussed how firms are using environmental claims to promote their products and how such claims are perceived and evaluated by consumers. Participants also discussed how consumer agencies and other stakeholders could enhance the value and effectiveness of the environmental claims. It also studied a number of case studies of current business practices to assess their impact on consumers, and debated how best to combat fraudulent or misleading claims in environmental advertising.
ICC’s Framework for Responsible Environmental Marketing Communications is a companion to the Consolidated ICC Code of Advertising and Marketing Communications, which sets forth general principles governing all marketing communications. The framework offers more detailed interpretation of the environmental claims chapter of the general code. As many of the national and regional codes are built on ICC’s Codes, this interpretation can also be applied to national and regional marketing codes used by self-regulatory organizations to set best practices for business.
ICC has been a major rule-setter for international advertising since the 1930s, when the first ICC Code on advertising practice was issued. Since then, it has extended the ICC self-regulatory framework on many occasions to assist companies in marketing their products responsibly.
Since 1930 ICC has assisted companies in marketing their products responsibly.