In January 2020, Shell UK Ltd. launched a radio advertising campaign for its Shell Go+ loyalty scheme. The United Kingdom’s Advertising Standards Authority subsequently received 17 complaints challenging claims made in the campaign, arguing that Shell’s statement that the scheme allowed customers to “Drive carbon-neutral” was misleading.
In response to these challenges and the ASA’s investigation, Shell stated that its carbon-neutral claim was supported by offsetting carbon emissions from consumer fuel purchases made with a Shell Go+ membership. When a fuel purchase is made by a consumer with a Shell Go+ membership, Shell purchases carbon credits to offset the lifecycle carbon emissions of the fuel purchase.
However, Shell's advertisement did not mention that Shell Go+ was a loyalty scheme. As such, the ASA concluded that the advertisement was misleading, as consumers were likely to infer that Shell Go+ was a new, carbon-neutral fuel rather than a carbon offsetting loyalty scheme, based on the "drive-carbon neutral" claims made by Shell in the advertisement. On June 8th 2020, the ASA ruled that the advertisement breached BCAP Code rules on misleading advertising (3.1) and environmental claims (9.2 and 9.3). The ASA stipulated that the advertisement must appear in the “complained of” form and that Shell UK Ltd must clarify that carbon offsetting is contingent on membership of a loyalty scheme.