Greenpeace storms WPP Cannes beach in fossil fuel protest
Greenpeace France protestors stormed WPP’s beach at the Cannes Lions Festival protesting agencies that work with fossil fuel companies.
This has come despite WPP-owned creative agency VLMY&R Brazil taking home two Gold Lions for its Greenpeace work at this year's festival.
The beach incident occurred early afternoon today (Wednesday June 22), just days after a former ad-exec turned Greenpeace activist was ejected from the festival for disrupting the opening ceremony.
The protestors were dressed as the popular ‘This is Fine’ dog meme and approached the beach in kayaks. However, just as Cannes Lions took action against stage-storming activist Martner, today’s protest was quickly shut down by police.
One attendee who was on the beach at the time of the Greenpeace invasion said: “We saw the small boats approach and initially it was not clear what the intention was. The beach was evacuated in case the motives were more sinister.”
Silvia Pastorelli, a policy advisor in climate change and energy at Greenpeace, downplayed the actions, and told The Drum that the protestors have “nothing against the creative sector, there is a lot of incredible energy and talent, but we would like to see that used as a force for good.”
She added: “We want to challenge these agencies, like WPP, that are still working with fossil fuel companies and help their clients convince us that this is still fine.”
The agency, while maintaining fossil fuel clients, addressed its own complicity in the climate crisis by pledging carbon neutrality by 2030. However, Pastorelli said despite this it knows that its clients hold responsibility for the climate crisis.
She said the activists targeted the WPP beach specifically because, while it is not the only major holding company that boasts major fossil fuel clients such as Shell, “it is one of them.” She added: “Despite pledging to go carbon neutral by 2030 last year, they know that their clients are responsible for the current climate crisis.”
Today’s activity continues the ongoing campaign, backed by Greenpeace, to launch a European Citizen’s Initiative that would ban fossil fuel advertising and sponsorship within the EU.
When asked if the team behind today’s stunt planned to strike again, Pastorelli said “the kayaks are ready.”
Additional reporting by Kenneth Hein.