Marketing

Hundreds of scientists call for an end to fossil-fuel marketing

PR and ad agencies continue to face criticism for working with Big Oil.
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Following Edelman’s announcement earlier this month that it wouldn’t stop working with some of its fossil-fuel companies, scientist Michael Mann (aka Leonardo DiCaprio in Don’t Look Up) told Adweek that if the agency wants to avoid the appearance of greenwashing, ending work with fossil-fuel clients is “a must.” Now, Mann is among 450+ scientists calling for change.

Together with the Union of Concerned Scientists and Clean Creatives, the group of scientists signed a letter last week asking for PR and ad agencies to stop working with fossil-fuel clients.

  • In the letter, contributing scientists write that they are “consistently faced with a major and needless challenge: overcoming advertising and PR efforts by fossil-fuel companies that seek to obfuscate or downplay our data and the risks posed by the climate crisis.”
  • Signees include scientists at universities around the world and from institutions like the Nuclear Energy Information Service, as well as doctors, including one from Boston Children’s Hospital.

Astrid Caldas, senior climate scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, told Clean Creatives that the urgency stems from the need to cut carbon emissions by at least 50% this decade and to net-zero “no later than” 2050 to avoid a climate catastrophe.

That’s not possible, the group writes in the letter, if PR and ad agencies work with companies or trade groups that “plan to expand their production of oil and gas.” Or contribute to efforts that spread “climate deception” and impede climate-related legislation.

Duncan Meisel, director at Clean Creatives, told Marketing Brew he believes the letter will make it harder for agencies to make sustainability pledges without addressing their client work.

“There’s no longer any excuse of not knowing how dangerous this work is, or attempting to hide behind the ambiguous commitments made by the oil industry,” he said.—KH

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