UK Advertising Clampdown on Boots Organic Claims

Thursday, 8 November 2012  |  Sarah
Boots has been reprimanded by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for running an online ad for its Little Me Organics Oh So Gentle Hair and Body Wash, after a ruling that it misled consumers into thinking the product was organic.

The online advert, which appeared on, drew a single complainant, who argued that the product's claim to be organic, and that it had met an independent organic standard, were misleading.

The advert's copy stated: "Little Me Organics Oh So Gentle Hair and Body wash pear, mallow & organic aloe vera to clean and moisturise your baby’s delicate hair and sensitive skin."

Boots argued that there was no legal definition of what constituted "organic" for cosmetics products, insisting that a reasonable consumer would understand that the product contained some organic ingredients – pear, mallow and aloe vera – as stated on the label.

Boots added that it had taken the claims directly from the packaging and reproduced them electronically on the website. Boots supplied the ASA with certification for the organic ingredients from four independent bodies, including The Soil Association and Ecocert. The retailer also gave a breakdown of the percentage of organic ingredients in the product, which was less than 5%.

The ASA acknowledged that, although the product contained pear, mallow and aloe vera accredited as organic, and that there was no legal standard for organic cosmetics in the UK, a product should only be described as "organic" if it contained a high proportion of organic ingredients.

The ASA said it believed consumers would assume that a product described as "Little Me Organics" had been independently accredited or that it used a high proportion of organic ingredients.

The ASA told Boots that the ad must not appear again in its current form and that the retailer must not promote the product in future marketing unless it provided a prominent statement disclaiming the implied organic claim.

(source: campaign/organic monitor) 

Organic Monitor Comment:
Although there are no national regulations for organic personal care products (as there are for organic foods), there is a growing consensus in the industry that organic products should meet some recognised standards. Private standards like Soil Association, Ecocert and Natrue are now established in Europe; retailers and consumers are thus increasingly expecting organic products to be certified. The advertising authorities are rightly recognising this.

Lucy Rose Comment:
There are many high street brands which consumers think are natural, organic and do not contain any harsh ingredients, but in most cases they are not. There are some good organic standards such as NaTrue, USDA , EcoCert etc, which certainly will aid the consumer when choosing a brand, however it is also worth mentioning that there are some fabulous products out there which are totally organic, but simply can't afford to pay to have the certification.

Ultimately the truth is in the ingredients, so always check the label and if you are not sure what something is, then feel free to contact us with your query.

If you want to know more, then check out our beginners guide to organic certifications.