CommsDeclare Brands Shell Energy An “Olympic Gaslighter” & Urges Agencies Not To Pitch For Creative Account

CommsDeclare Brands Shell Energy An “Olympic Gaslighter” & Urges Agencies Not To Pitch For Creative Account

CommsDeclare’s Belinda Noble has branded Shell Energy an “Olympic Gaslighter” and urged agencies not to pitch for its creative account.

Updated 21/3/24: Removed erroneous reference to Sense’s work for Viva Energy Australia. 

Speaking to B&T, Noble said that Shell and its various subsidiaries “talk up” its role in the energy transition but that its recent abandonment of one emissions target and the weakening of another show that the company was not serious about climate change.

The oil and energy company recently updated its plan to cut the total net carbon intensity of the energy products it sells to customers – the emissions per unit of energy – by 20 per cent between 2016 and 2030. The reduction is now set at between 15-20 per cent. However, these are effectively Scope 3 targets — it would be unreasonable to expect any business to be directly responsible for the carbon produced by the customers that buy its products.

“Shell heavily promoted its net zero target in Australia, while internal emails shown to a US government committee revealed it was ‘not a Shell business plan’. These greenwashing claims are being investigated by the corporate regulator,” said Noble.

There is, however, some conjecture around this topic and the internal emails were investigated as part of a US Congressional hearing. Rather than reflecting an internal Shell business plan, the company posited two potential energy futures: one where countries are focused strictly on national energy security and another where politicians are forced by public opinion to accelerate climate-friendly policies rapidly or, in Shell’s words, “just go for it!”

“The energy retailing side of the business is the friendly ‘green’ face of an international corporation betting against the energy transition and a safe future for our children,” added Noble.

“Agencies may be tricked into thinking that taking the account is helping to promote the renewables transition, but they will just be propping up the brand of corporation doubling down on oil and gas and damaging their own credibility in the process.”

Brisbane-based agency Nous had worked with Shell Energy to deliver its campaigns, including the brand’s net zero work, in 2022.

There has been growing scrutiny of agencies and their work with fossil fuel companies. Havas, which was awarded B Corp certification, has come under fire due to its work with Shell, for instance. Earlier this year, 26 communications and advertising agencies submitted an official complaint to B Corp about Havas’ involvement with Shell.

“Havas’ decision to make its B Corps a part of Shell’s misleading marketing is a clear threat to the integrity and brand of the B Corp movement. B Corps should not be producing marketing and PR for the world’s biggest polluters, and we are grateful to B Lab for continuing this investigation so that their many members who support serious climate action can be heard,” said Clean Creatives executive director Duncan Meisel at the time.

Noble added that the EU is about to usher in new greenwashing rules that will prohibit the use of vague environmental claims such as “environmentally friendly,” “natural,” “biodegradable,” “climate neutral,” or “eco” unless these claims can be backed up by adequate evidence.

“These laws are expected to transform the sustainability advertising landscape, both in the EU and outside, as companies will be selling into the EU, the world’s largest trading bloc,” said Noble.

“The [EU’s] Empowering Consumers for the Green Transition (ECGT) bans all claims about carbon ‘offset’ products (carbon-neutral flights, carbon-positive gas supply, CO2-compensated car fuel). The ECGT also states that environmental labels must come from proper certification schemes and no ‘cherry picking’ of small projects or facts is allowed.

“In addition, under the current text of the GCD, reliance on ‘offsetting’ to deliver future goals is off the table, except for ‘residual emissions’ left (i.e. in 2050) once all feasible emissions reductions (generally 90-95 per cent of base year emissions) are completed. The current text of the GCD also requires traders to have all green claims ‘verified’ by an independent verifier as meeting minimum requirements before publication,” she added.

Shell Energy declined to comment when contacted by B&T.

Please login with linkedin to comment

CommsDeclare Shell

Latest News

Sydney Comedy Festival: Taking The City & Social Media By Storm
  • Media

Sydney Comedy Festival: Taking The City & Social Media By Storm

Sydney Comedy Festival 2024 is live and ready to rumble, showing the best of international and homegrown talent at a host of venues around town. As usual, it’s hot on the heels of its big sister, the giant that is the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, picking up some acts as they continue on their own […]

Global Marketers Descend For AANA’s RESET For Growth
  • Advertising

Global Marketers Descend For AANA’s RESET For Growth

The Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) has announced the final epic lineup of local and global marketing powerhouses for RESET for Growth 2024. Lead image: Josh Faulks, chief executive officer, AANA  Back in 2000, a woman with no business experience opened her first juice bar in Adelaide. The idea was brilliantly simple: make healthy […]