Good Energy falls foul of advertising watchdog... again

by Search Gate staff. Published Wed 07 Aug 2013 16:54, Last updated: 2013-08-07
Good Energy banned from making renewable energy ad claim

Independent utility firm Good Energy has been forced by the advertising watchdog to drop its marketing claim that it is the “UK's leading 100% renewable electricity supplier”.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ordered Good Energy to ditch the slogan and banned it from being repeated after ruling it was misleading and could not be substantiated.

The ASA launched an investigation into the ad claim following a complaint by rival green energy provider Ecotricity.

In its response, Good Energy unsuccessfully argued that they were the only UK electricity supplier which had a 100% renewable electricity tariff accredited through the Green Energy Supply Certification scheme (GESCA).

According to today's ASA ruling: “GE emphasised that they were the only energy supplier which sourced 100% renewable electricity and had a 100% renewable fuel mix. They considered they were the sole operator in a niche market within the wider electricity market and were therefore the market leader in that niche market.

“They provided a table, compiled from third-party sources, which they said demonstrated that they were the only company solely dedicated to sourcing 100% renewable electricity.

“They highlighted that the claim referred to them as the UK's leading 100% renewable electricity 'supplier', rather than referencing 100% renewable electricity tariffs.

“They considered consumers would therefore understand the claim to relate to their position as the only, and consequently the leading, supplier in a niche market rather than being a comparison with companies which offered both 100% renewable tariffs and ‘non-green' tariffs.”

However, the ASA upheld the complaint and ruled the marketing slogan was misleading and could not be substantiated.

The watchdog's ruling explained: “We considered that, to substantiate the claim, GE would need to provide comparative evidence which demonstrated that GE had more customers on its 100% renewable electricity tariff than their competitors.

“Because we had not seen such evidence, we concluded the claim was misleading.”

The ASA ruled the advert must not appear again in its current form, and added: “We told Good Energy they should not make claims which implied that they had more customers on their 100% renewable electricity tariff than their competitors unless they held substantiation that was the case.”

It is the second time Good Energy has fallen foul of advertising rules.

In 2011, the company was banned by the ASA from making similar claims that it supplied 100% renewable energy directly to consumers.

Following the latest scrape with the advertising regulator, a spokesperson for Good Energy said tonight: “The ASA’s adjudication follows a single complaint from a competitor, which concerns the use of the word 'leading'.

“The Authority has ruled that consumers might think our use of the word on our website could lead some to believe we have more customers than other companies with 100% renewable tariffs.

“Good Energy used the word leading because we considered that the combination of our 100% renewable fuel mix and Green Energy Supply Certification scheme accreditation means that our 100% renewable electricity tariff is unique across the energy industry. We will comply with the ASA ruling.

“The Ethical Company Organisation in its annual assessment of renewable energy suppliers rated Good Energy highest for nine years consecutively.”

And Good Energy CEO Juliet Davenport added: “Our track record shows that we have demonstrated significant leadership in our sector over the years, from green electricity accreditation to small scale renewable generation.

"It’s a shame therefore that within the strict description of the ASA we are not allowed to use the word 'leading'.”

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