A new global report on the damaging effects of promoting fossil fuels has singled out Australia as being uniquely compromised by agencies lobbying for oil, gas and coal.
The joint study by Australian organisations Comms Declare and Clean Creatives lists the 90 advertising, marketing and PR agencies that have hampered cuts to greenhouse gas emissions and details ways they have influenced policy.
Comms Declare Founder, Belinda Noble commented: “Australia is unique because three Prime Ministers have lost their jobs for trying to limit greenhouse gases.
“A lobbying firm helped put a lump of coal into Scott Morrison’s hand in parliament. Now PR and ad companies are helping gas corporations promote and greenwash the so-called ‘gas-fired recovery’.
“With corporate giants pumping tens of millions into sponsorships, PR, lobbying and marketing every year, it’s no wonder Australia has no net zero commitment and is playing a wrecking role in international climate negotiations.
“The research also shows that two multinationals, WPP and Omnicom, have a significant influence in the local market. WPP has six local agencies that represent fossil fuel companies despite its own pledge to have net zero carbon emissions by 2025,” she added.
The report also highlights the new greenwashing battleground of net zero claims.
“Fossil fuel companies are the biggest polluters, the biggest greenwashers, and the biggest opponents of life-saving climate action. There is no room for ad and PR professionals to continue promoting companies that are doing so much damage to our future,” said Duncan Meisel, director of Clean Creatives.
“The most important step any agency can take to address the climate crisis is to rule out working with fossil fuel companies. We need creatives and communications experts to bring their full energy towards ending this crisis, not extending it.”
The PR company Edelman recently released a report finding that 60 per cent of employees would leave a company that is doing “fundamentally immoral” work. A growing percentage of millennial, Gen Z, and other younger workers view the fossil fuel industry in precisely those terms.
In recent months, major advertising and PR holding companies have announced sustainability policies aimed at reducing the carbon impact of their offices, travel, and production. Disclosed pledges from across the industry so far amount to reductions of less than seven megatons of carbon per year – an amount that equals approximately one month of the carbon impact of a single fossil fuel client, Exxon, under their current business plans.
Sustainability pledges by holding companies will fall short in addressing climate change and questions of employee engagement as long as they do not clearly rule out working with the most polluting clients.
OnEarthDay2021, holding company giant WPP pledged to reach net zero across all of its operations, going so far as to account for the energy used to run banner ads across the internet and develop plans to power them with renewable energy, or offset the carbon impact. This extensive, detailed plan will account for reductions of 5.4 mt of carbon annually by 2025 across the entire group of agencies.
WPP maintains a long list of fossil fuel aligned clients, most prominently BP in Ogilvy, Shell at WundermanThompson, and Exxon in both Hill + Knowlton and Burson Cohn and Wolfe. These fossil fuel majors account for 423 times the carbon impact of WPP’s operations. This gap in WPP’s pledge means that generating sales increases of 0.2 per cent across these clients would immediately wipe out the impact of WPP’s net zero plan.
In June 2021, the holding company Interpublic released a Net Zero plan that included powering their work with 100% renewable energy by 2030, and reaching net zero emissions by 2040. This plan, which includes expanded reporting and disclosure on their operations, would account for reductions of 211 tonnes of CO2 equivalent annually.
G’s operations represent a tiny fraction of emissions compared to their work for major polluting clients. Just one agency, Carmichael Lynch, bragged to the public that their campaign for oil giant Conoco Phillips resulted in 40,000,000 gallons of gasoline sold, representing a carbon impact greater than the entire global holding company.
Additionally, their extensive work for Exxon at both Weber-Shandwick and UM Media contributes directly to Exxon’s longstanding – and confessed – strategy to obstruct climate action by governments, and extend their highly-polluting business model past the window of climate safety.
In comparison with IPG’s goal to use 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030, their client Exxon plans to increase oil production by 52 per cent, and gas production by 27 per cent by 2030.
dentsu has made a public commitment to achieve Net Zero on a timeline which, on its face, matches well to the Paris Climate Agreement goals, and more ambitious timelines for climate action. However, none of its clients in polluting industries have targets to match Dentsu’s ambition, and the company’s failure to account for the impact of their work for those clients undermines the credibility of their pledge.
On its website, Dentsu lays out five planks to its net zero agenda: Technology, Flights, Research and Advertising, Professional fees, and Buildings and Fleet. None of these five areas would account for, or mitigate, the impact of working for clients such as Chevron (mcgarrybowen), or Ampol (iProspect), both of which are major sources of climate pollution at a scale that outstrips any of Dentsu’s current commitments.
Since 2007, holding company Publicis has adopted climate disclosure and planning into its business plans. Their current plans include carbon neutrality in their operations by 2030, and regular reporting on annual emissions. Their climate plan focuses first on reducing travel, and then the most concrete parts of its carbon and waste footprint by reducing raw material consumption and using renewable energy in its offices.
These commitments stand in sharp contrast to their work with fossil fuel companies such as Ampol and Total. While Publicis will reduce their carbon footprint to zero by 2030, Total plans to expand their oil production and leave their gas production virtually unchanged. The work Publicis agencies do for these companies allows them to extend their polluting business models far beyond where Publicis itself believes it is appropriate to continue contributing to carbon pollution.
Holding company Omnicom has taken a fragmented, piecemeal approach to sustainability within its business. Several agencies have joined initiatives like the UK Advertising Association’s Ad Net Zero project, but none which would commit them to addressing the impact of their work for major polluting clients.
Their current holding-company wide goals include only minor targets such as using 20% renewable energy by 2023. But by comparison, their fossil fuel clients are even lower-performing. In 2020, Ketchum’s major oil industry client ExxonMobil invests less than one per cent of their annual capital expenditures into developing renewable or carbon-capture programs.
Independent brand and digital agency, Archibald Williams (AW) has been appointed to lead the NBA account across the APAC region. The NBA is one of the most prestigious sporting leagues in the world and basketball is one of the fastest-growing sports in Australia. Effective immediately, AW said it was “excited” to work across all digital, […]
B&T's shining a light on industry folk prior to adland. Preference given to anyone purporting actual UFO abduction.
Leading digital outdoor company QMS has announced it is the first-ever inaugural partner for Most Contagious APAC, the landmark London event by creative and strategic intelligence company Contagious, which will be showcased in Australia on Tuesday, 12 December in Sydney and Wednesday, 13 December in Melbourne. Most Contagious is an event that delivers key advertising […]
Omnicom’s data and analytics division Annalect has partnered with Meta, giving it access to Advanced Analytics (AA) – one of Meta’s privacy-focused measurement solutions – to provide Omnicom’s clients with future-proof, next-level measurement. Omnicom is the first holding company to have access to AA. AA allows advertisers to combine their first-party data with Meta’s ads […]
WPP’s AKQA has launched Fixmas.gift, an environmentally conscious AI-powered DIY assistant, affectionately known as Fixie, for a one-stop solution for all things repair. Fixmas.gift hosts an array of guides and inspiration to empower people to prolong the lives of their belongings or purchase pre-owned items that need a little love and care. Fixie can: Help […]
Marc Collister (pictured) of P2 Content Creators spills the beans on his 2024 predictions drawing from two decades of experience in the advertising, film and television industry. I’m certain it will come as no surprise that in 2024, we can expect our industry to move at breakneck speed again. With even more rapid shifts in […]
Zeno Australia has announced expanded creative design capabilities and the appointment of Jim Michell (lead image) to its senior leadership team. The new moves support strong growth in the region. Zeno Australia’s clients, including Abano Healthcare, Motorola and Yorkshire Tea, can now tap into a suite of creative design services to augment the agency’s work […]
Assembled Media, is drawing upon the creative power of TikTok Creator Marketplace to help generate unique, impactful content for iconic stationery brand, BIC. The social activation campaign titled ‘A Pen for Every Side of You’ promotes the flexibility of BIC’s 4 Colours pen and is active nationwide on the BIC Stationery TikTok account. The campaign […]
Pinterest reckons jellyfish & moody cowboys will be big in 2024. Refused to be drawn on the return of shoulder pads.
IAB Australia has launched ‘Evolution in Market Mix Modelling’, the fourth module in its Marketing Measurement Innovation Series, which has been developed by IAB Australia’s Ad Effectiveness Council. The module explores what is driving the increased use of MMM and how the technique is evolving with advances in computing power and machine learning to provide […]
Scope3, the collaborative sustainability platform leading the decarbonisation of media and advertising, announced the addition of digital out-of-home (DOOH) to its emissions measurement. With DOOH ad spending predicted to grow from $17B in 2023 to nearly $24B by 2028, measuring this channel brings us one step closer to understanding the total impact of digital advertising […]
NRF 2024: Retail’s Big Show Asia Pacific, is now open for online registrations for the main conference. Jointly organized by the National Retail Federation and Comexposium, Retail’s Big Show Asia Pacific will take place from 11 – 13 June, 2024 at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre in Singapore and is expected to draw thousands […]