Sustainable flying? The effects of greenwashed claims in airline advertising on perceived greenwashing, brand outcomes, and attitudes toward flying

Publications: Contribution to journalArticlePeer Reviewed


To respond to consumers’ rising concerns about environmental topics, airlines increasingly use green advertising. However, due to the environmental impact of flying, many green advertisements by airlines can be considered as “greenwashing” practices. In an experimental study with a quota-based sample (N = 329), we investigated the effects of two types of greenwashed advertisements for airlines: concrete compensation and abstract compensation (compared to a control condition). Following the Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM), we also explored the moderating role of environmental knowledge in the ability of consumers to perceive greenwashing in airline advertising. Results indicated that concrete compensation claims did not increase greenwashing perceptions compared to the control condition. However, abstract compensation claims did, which, via perceived greenwashing, were negatively associated with brand outcomes and assessments of flying. Environmental knowledge did not moderate these effects. Implications for research on greenwashing, as well as practical conclusions for environmental communication, are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Communication
Early online date24 Mar 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Mar 2024

Austrian Fields of Science 2012

  • 508007 Communication science


  • environmental knowledge
  • experiment
  • Flying
  • green advertising
  • perceived greenwashing

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