The activists, many dressed in black tie, put down a makeshift red carpet, held glasses of ‘crude oil’ in Champagne flutes, and held what they called the "Charred Earth PR Awards" ceremony outside the JW Marriott Grosvenor House in Park Lane as guests arrived.
Citing a recent report from Clean Creatives, an environmental activist campaign led by nonprofit Fossil Free Media, Extinction Rebellion handed out the "Charred Earth Enabler of the Year" award to WPP "for the sheer scale of their work for the worst polluters globally". The holding company's agencies have worked with clients including BP (Ogilvy) and Shell and ExxonMobil (Hill+Knowlton). One campaigner held a mask of WPP chief executive Mark Read to 'accept' the award (below).
The statement from Extinction Rebellion also cited an accusation from Clean Creatives that Edelman had been working with ExxonMobil to undermine anti-climate change regulation work. Edelman has refuted the accusations.
The statement from Extinction Rebellion accused the PRWeek UK Awards of celebrating "greenwashing projects" and highlighted what it called "disingenuous claims of PR companies aiming for carbon neutrality in their own offices, while ignoring the enormous emissions of their clients, whose sales they are trying to increase".
Ian McDermott of Extinction Rebellion said in a statement: “Ten years ago in PR you would occasionally see a colleague poached for a massive salary to go and PR for the tobacco industry. PR contracts with fossil fuel companies, climate-destroying banks and the beef industry are today’s unacceptable face of communications, and teams working on them are often put in silos within agencies to avoid demotivating colleagues working on less toxic brands. Agencies should be refusing this work altogether and putting their creative skills to work on the right side of history.”