As part of its continuing scrutiny of 'green' marketing campaigns, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has reached agreement with Origin Energy over some of its advertising.
"Origin recently aired a television advertisement in Victoria and Adelaide representing that switching to Origin GreenPower would be the same as 'not driving your car for two years'," ACCC Chairman, Mr Graeme Samuel, said today. "The advertisement featured a spider in the exhaust of a disused car.
"The ACCC raised concerns with Origin that this advertisement did not clearly explain to consumers the underlying averaging basis for the claimed environmental benefit of switching to Origin 100 per cent GreenPower*.
"The ACCC was particularly concerned that consumers were not adequately informed in the advertisement that there was a choice of two Origin GreenPower products and that choosing Origin's 20 per cent GreenPower, instead of its 100 per cent product, would not achieve the same result.
"Origin has responded promptly to ACCC concerns. Origin will not air such advertisements in the future without making explicit the basis upon which the representations are made.
"Origin will also send a clarification letter to those 100 per cent and 20 per cent GreenPower customers who signed up during the period that the advertisement was being broadcast, and allow those who did not understand the advertisement in the way intended to switch from those products without cost or delay.
"Origin has further agreed to educate all its customers, through its newsletters, about the basis of the environmental claims it makes with respect to its GreenPower products.
"Consumers can easily be confused when it comes to green claims. Origin's remedial actions demonstrate why it is important that companies engaging in green marketing educate their customers about the basis underlying claimed environmental benefits of their products.
"Consumers are keen to embrace accredited green products, relying on the environmental benefits claimed to be associated with them. It is imperative that the basis for the claimed benefits be clear and accurate.
"The ACCC stands ready to take strong enforcement action when green advertisements fall short of this mark."
*Information about accredited GreenPower products can be obtained from http://www.greenpower.gov.au/home.aspx