February 4, 2010
In a Medill Reports Chicago article titled “Green Advertising Incites More Complaints, Chicago Marketing Companies Tackle Certification Issues,” partner Christie Grymes Thompson was quoted. The article discussed how marketing companies are navigating green certifications and seals in an environment in which consumer complaints about deceptive advertising claims are on the rise.
What makes these certifications confusing is that environmental seals are often industry-specific such as Energy Star seals for appliances and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for housing. Ms. Thompson notes that the key issues for consumers “are to make sure there is some substance behind the certification, and that the certification is monitored by an objective, credible third party that has standards in place that it imposes before just issuing the certification.”
For the most part, Ms. Thompson added, businesses do have good intentions as far as accuracy and truth in advertising are concerned. Sometimes it is a consumer’s misunderstanding of a seal that leads to a complaint. If a product doesn’t live up to those exaggerated expectations, consumers find themselves disappointed. “To the extent that that is going to happen,” Ms. Thompson said, “marketers just need to be sensitive to qualify the exact environmental benefits of the product.”