Climate group pressures agencies to drop fossil fuel clients

The push demands firms not work with fossil fuel companies or industry groups, and calls on staffers to pressure executives to that end.

The Clean Creatives campaign wants agencies to drop fossil fuel clients. (Photo credit: Getty Images).
The Clean Creatives campaign wants agencies to drop fossil fuel clients. (Photo credit: Getty Images).

SALT LAKE CITY: A new pressure campaign is calling out creative and PR agencies for their work on behalf of the fossil fuel industry and asking employees and clients to pressure them to cut ties with coal, oil and natural gas businesses and groups.

The Clean Creatives campaign is targeting PR firms, according to one of its founders, Jamie Henn, because communications shops are working to thwart climate activism.

“Every time we would get engaged in a big advocacy effort, the big PR companies get involved on the other side to oppose us,” he said. Henn added that he did not contact any PR agencies before the campaign launched.

The advocacy drive is asking firms to pledge not to work with the fossil fuel industry and demanding creatives and non-fossil-fuel clients pressure agency partners to not accept work from those businesses and groups.

The group is also working to discover what firms have fossil fuel accounts. It has created a hotline for agency employees to anonymously share documents or information about their firms’ fossil fuel work.

On its website, Clean Creatives praised Porter Novelli for its decision to cut ties with the American Public Gas Association. It quoted a statement the Omnicom Group shop made to climate activist Bill McKibben for a New Yorker op-ed he penned that was posted the same day as the launch of the Clean Creatives campaign.

“We have determined our work with the American Public Gas Association is incongruous with our increased focus and priority on addressing climate justice,” Porter told McKibben.

However, the campaign also criticized agencies and holding companies, including Ogilvy, Omnicom, WPP and Edelman for their work on fossil fuel accounts.

Prior to the campaign, Edelman took a public stand acknowledging the validity of climate change and said on its website that it will “not accept client assignments that aim to deny climate change.”

CEO Richard Edelman said he stands by the work his agency does for energy clients.

“We are proud of the work we do for clients in every sector of the energy industry,” he said in an emailed statement. “We believe that business, government and society must work together to address climate change while supporting economic growth and meeting the needs of a growing global population. We are committed to honesty and transparency in all of our work and adhere to the highest standards of accuracy and truth in advancing the interests of our clients and in communicating with the public.”

Representatives from Ogilvy and Omnicom did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A spokesperson for WPP declined to comment.

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