Prism+ air-con ad accused of ‘greenwashing’ removed after S’pore watchdog deems it misleading, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Prism+ air-con ad accused of ‘greenwashing’ removed after S’pore watchdog deems it misleading

The Republic’s advertising standards watchdog has deemed an advertisement by local electronics company Prism+ “not acceptable” for its misleading claims about the environmental friendliness of its line of air conditioners, in what is the first case of its kind.

Marketing that exaggerates the sustainability of a product is known as greenwashing.

The offending ad for the Prism+ zero smart air-con was pulled from the company’s Instagram page after the council of the Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore (Asas) deemed it “not acceptable”, said Asas chairman Ang Peng Hwa in a statement to ST on Dec 15.

Professor Ang said Prism+ was informed of the decision on Dec 5.

The ad was in the form of a video that featured influencer Wendy Cheng, better known as Xiaxue, on a mission to “save the earth”. In the video, she puts on winter wear and sets the air-con temperature to 23 deg C.

“Save Earth and electricity with 5 ticks energy saving,” reads a caption, referring to Singapore’s classification system for the energy efficiency of electrical appliances, with five ticks being the highest rating.

After receiving a complaint about the ad, Asas deliberated and found the wording in it to be in breach of the Singapore Code of Advertising Practice (Scap).

Asas singled out specifically the claim that using Prism+ air conditioners was the “best tip”, and the depiction of Xiaxue setting the temperature to 23 deg C to “save Earth”.

Said Prof Ang: “The council is of the position that these are not acceptable under the following general principle of the Scap to communicate that the product brings about energy savings, irrespective of whether they can be demonstrated, in view of the energy such appliances consume.”

In view of the energy air conditioners consume, to brand them as energy-saving violated the code’s requirement of truthful presentation in marketing, he added.

In particular, Prism+ had flouted the limb which requires advertisements not to “mislead in any way by inaccuracy, ambiguity, exaggeration or omission”, he said.

Asas also reminded Prism+ that any claims about energy savings should be substantiated by tests conducted by independent parties in conditions that are applicable to the local context.

Prof Ang said Asas had received one other complaint about greenwashing since 2020, but in that case the ad in question was not found to have breached Scap.

ST has contacted Prism+ for comment.