Sustainability

Climate Week 2022: A marketing recap

Marketers may want to do more for the planet, but reports reveal they’ve got a ways to go.
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Illustration: Dianna “Mick” McDougall, Photos: Getty Images

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“My world’s on fire, how ’bout yours?” is both a Smash Mouth lyric and a summary of this year’s Climate Week.

As people gathered to hear the latest corporate promises (and thoughts from Entourage cast members?) at Climate Week NYC, new reports show the marketing industry’s role in the climate crisis continues to be…not great, Bob!

Report cards are in: Clean Creatives and climate advocacy group Comms Declare released the second-annual “F-List” of PR and ad agencies working with fossil-fuel companies. All six holding groups were included, as well as independent agencies like Edelman, which Clean Creatives has called “one of the worst when it comes to fossil-fuel PR.” Publishers like the New York Times’s T Brand Studios and the Washington Post Creative Group were also called out.

By the numbers:

  • This week, ad platform Good Loop released a study which found that 76% of US and UK marketers think the digital ad industry needs to do more to reduce carbon emissions. While 51% of US respondents said their organization plans to reach net zero in digital advertising at some point in the future, only 24% said it’s set targets to do so.
  • A new study from Harvard University and the Algorithmic Transparency Institute looked at European Union-based airlines’, car brands’, and fossil-fuel companies’ online activity this summer, determining that “social media appears to be the ‘new frontier’ of climate disinformation and deception.” While most of the companies the study looked at did not address the climate crisis on social, many sought to curate a green image or to direct audiences away from “companies’ core business operations.”

ICYMI: Federal lawmakers are looking into the role of PR and advertising in the climate crisis.

  • The House Natural Resource Committee held a hearing last week on PR companies’ role in climate misinformation. The committee’s report found that they often “go far beyond typical marketing techniques” to help fossil-fuel companies, like making fake news sites and “engineering astroturf ‘citizen’ groups” in attempts to improve brand image and fight legislation.
  • The House Committee on Oversight and Reform obtained internal documents from oil and gas companies as part of an investigation, revealing—among other things—that fossil-fuel execs “privately downplayed their companies’ own public messages about efforts to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and weakened industry-wide commitments to push for climate policies,” according to the New York Times.
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