Climate Crisis Cop26 Sustainability

Clean Creatives launches in UK before Cop26 with campaign targeting greenwashing agencies


By Sam Bradley, Journalist

October 27, 2021 | 4 min read

Clean Creatives, a US-based campaign group working to disentangle the advertising and PR industry from the fossil fuel sector, has officially launched in the UK, a week prior to the Cop26 climate change conference in Glasgow.

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US-based anti-greenwashing group Clean Creatives has launched in the UK / Unsplash

The group is to begin targeting the biggest names in British PR and advertising in an effort to deter them from working with fossil fuel producers.

It’s calling on marketing practitioners and PR professionals to sign the Clean Creatives pledge, which commits businesses not to accept future work from fossil fuel producers, from energy companies that source more than 50% of their power from fossil fuels, or from trade bodies representing the petrochemical industry.

Duncan Meisel, campaign manager of Clean Creatives, singled out holding companies such as Omnicom and WPP; the latter has pledged to bring its direct carbon emissions to net zero, and to achieve the same throughout its supply chain by 2050.

“Despite their sustainability goals and past pledges to stop working with climate deniers, nearly all of the world’s largest PR and ad firms continue to work with fossil fuel industry clients. WPP does business with Shell and Chevron, Omnicom’s BBDO does much of ExxonMobil’s advertising, Ogilvy runs branding exercises for BP,” he said.

”Our campaign will expose the depth and breadth of these relationships. The spread of climate misinformation can be directly traced back to firms with names like WPP, Omnicom and Edelman. As long as they continue to engage in polluter relations, these firms will be one of our greatest barriers to climate progress. It’s time for PR and ad agencies to come clean.”

Clean Creatives already works with 172 agencies and 600 creatives worldwide; in the UK, its supporters include Futerra, Don’t Cry Wolf, Enviral, Franses, Hope&Glory and Word + Pixels.

Joss Ford, chief executive officer of Enviral, said: ”We’re in the middle of a climate crisis, and it’s our role as creatives and strategists to help communicate our way out. Scientists have done their bit – it’s now time for communications agencies, in-house marketing departments and freelance communicators of all types to help bring genuine positive behavior change, quickly.”

Chloe Franses, chief exec and founder of Franses, said Cop26 represented a window of opportunity for the climate movement. ”As the world’s eyes settle on Glasgow over the coming fortnight and more and more agencies turn to self-promotion based on trust and purpose, it is crucial to remember the responsibility that comes with claims in this space.

”Dark money lobbying against climate action, funneled through agencies who detach the profit from the planet or people, is called out by this Clean Creatives campaign. I hope this can be a positive joining of forces across the industry, as it can’t be a finger-pointing exercise. Now is the time to reflect, adapt and commit.”

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