Animated Innocent ad banned for “misleading” environmental claims

The Advertising Standards Authority ruled against the ad after 26 complainants, including Plastics Rebellion, challenged what it implied about the drinks company’s products.

23 February 2022


Innocent’s 2021 animated advert Little Drinks, Big Dreams has been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) on the grounds that it is “misleading”. A report from the ASA states that the ad implies that purchasing Innocent products “would have a positive environmental impact when that was not the case”.

The ad, which was directed by Mother London and produced by Blinkink (and which we covered in May last year), features a cast of wonderful characters singing a catchy tune about “fixing up” the world to emphasise striving “for a healthy, happier planet”, as a 2021 press release put it. The ad’s depiction of Innocent’s products alongside this “fixed up world” is in fact where much of the problem lies, says ASA.

“The ad firstly presented a depiction of a damaged planet and brown food. It then switched to imagery of the planet being ‘fixed up’ whilst Innocent drinks are being consumed alongside images of Innocent products, depicting people and animals relaxing in a green environment,” writes the ASA ruling. “We considered that this implied there was a direct association between choosing Innocent drinks and taking positive action to help the environment.”

In the original ad, characters sang the lyrics: “We’re messing up the planet. We’re messing up real good,” highlighting environmental issues such as sea pollution. They then sang: “Let’s get fixing up the planet. Fix it up real good…”, accompanied by images of people recycling and squeezing fruit from a tree into Innocent smoothies.


Mother London and Innocent Drinks: Still from Little Drinks, Big Dreams (Copyright © Mother London and Innocent, 2021)

Last year, advocacy group Plastics Rebellion began protesting against the campaign, arguing that the ad suggests that purchasing single-use plastic is good for the environment.

With regard to their use of single-use plastics, Innocent said that “the ad did not make claims that their use was better than other forms of packaging, and instead sought to show that recycling was better than throwing away”, according to the ASA ruling. Innocent also stated that it is a B Corp, a certification granted to some companies that demonstrate a high social and environmental performance. Innocent said that it had committed to being carbon neutral by 2030, and had opened a carbon-neutral factory that ran on renewable energy and a cleaning system that reduced water usage by 75 per cent.

In a recent Twitter post, Plastics Rebellion writes: “Innocent used their B Corp status as part of their defence. We feel that at worst, B Corp status can act as a kind of cloaking device for planet-unfriendly misdemeanours, a bit like Freddy Kruger being let off for his charity work.”


Mother London and Innocent Drinks: Still from Little Drinks, Big Dreams (Copyright © Mother London and Innocent, 2021)

The final ruling from ASA states: “Although we acknowledged that Innocent were undertaking various actions which were aimed at reducing the environmental impact of their products, that did not demonstrate that their products had a net positive environmental impact over their full lifecycles. We also noted that their drinks bottles included non-recycled plastic and that the extraction of raw materials and subsequent processing of those materials in order to produce the bottle would have a negative impact on the environment.” The ruling goes on to state that the ads must not appear again in their current form.

A spokesperson from Innocent said: “We’re disappointed to see the ruling from the ASA. Our advert was always intended to highlight important global environmental issues and the need for collective action to make a change. We transparently share more about the work that we do on sustainability on our website. As with any new guidelines, we’d like to work with the ASA and other brands to understand how to align to them to continue the conversation on these important topics.”

GalleryMother London and Innocent Drinks: Still from Little Drinks, Big Dreams (Copyright © Mother London and Innocent, 2021)

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Mother London and Innocent Drinks: Still from Little Drinks, Big Dreams (Copyright © Mother London and Innocent, 2021)

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About the Author

Liz Gorny

Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. In January 2023, they became associate editor, predominantly working on partnership projects and contributing long-form pieces to It’s Nice That. Contact them about potential partnerships or story leads.

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