Who: Kwalitaria Franchise Friendly Concepts (FFC Franchise B.V.) and Dutch Advertising Code Authority (SRC)
Where: The Netherlands
When: 4 July 2019
Law stated as at: 3 December 2019
The Dutch snack bar franchise Kwalitaria Franchise Friendly Concepts claimed in a YouTube video to be “heading towards 100% sustainability“.
This claim was repeatedly and expressly shown on a sign appearing throughout the video. Kwalitaria substantiated this claim by explaining that it chooses where possible to use less salt, sugar and fats, and use meat carrying a quality mark. During the proceedings, Kwalitaria clarified that it was working on making its range of products sustainable so that these will increasingly meet animal-welfare requirements. At the time of publication of the ruling, only part of Kwalitaria’s (meat) range complied with the Dutch “Better Life” quality mark.
The Appeals Tribunal of the SRC deemed the “heading towards 100% sustainability” claim to be too absolute, since it implies that sustainability of the entire product range will be accomplished in the not too distant future. Kwalitaria had admitted that it is uncertain it will ever achieve a 100% sustainable assortment of products. As a result, Kwalitaria’s claim is ruled to be misleading towards consumers (in accordance with clause 7 of the Dutch Advertising Code).
Why this matters:
There are two reasons why this is relevant for businesses:
- The SRC gives some substance to the term “sustainability”, finding that it is used as an umbrella term in society and everyday speech. The term embraces not only environmental aspects but also animal welfare and working conditions. The average consumer will understand the term “sustainable” to be a positive and promotional word, meaning that the company substantially contributes to the environment and the well-being of humans and animals.
- The SRC determines that the claim “heading towards” implies that the promoted target would be achieved by the company within the foreseeable future. If a company is certain that it will not achieve the acclaimed objective within a certain, definable period of time, it may be wise to refrain from using such phrase in marketing claims.