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Work & Wellbeing Agency Culture Climate Crisis

Young creatives encouraged to ‘wreck’ fossil fuel clients’ advertising briefs


By Ellen Ormesher, Senior Reporter

August 30, 2022 | 4 min read

Following protests outside WPP and Edelman, we catch up with the organizers who warn agencies that the best new talent will no longer work on high-carbon clients.

Ogilvy protest

During the action, young creatives from Glimpse held an ‘outdoor brainstorm’/ Image via Glimpse

Today (August 30), a network of young creatives called Glimpse has been taking a stand against fossil fuel advertising, holding ‘outdoor brainstorms’ at the London headquarters of WPP and Edelman and handing out The Brief Sabotage Handbook, which gives creatives playful but actionable advice on protesting against briefs set by high-carbon and polluting clients.

With the strapline ’Wreck a Brief, Save a Planet’, The Brief Sabotage Handbook is aimed at creatives aged 18 to 30 who are in the early phase of their careers and feel deeply uncomfortable working with clients fueling the climate emergency.

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“We’ve seen really positive moves this week and France banning fossil fuel advertising will be a major step,” says Glimpse founder James Turner. “But there are still agencies and holding companies that are major fossil fuel players.

“Our major point is that young talent has so much power in this space and their words and actions within the agency setting have far more influence than they think. That’s the reason we created the handbook in such a playful style, to highlight that this is a creative industry and young people want to make work that expresses their concerns.”

Glimpse’s protest today is the latest in a series of ongoing action by various organizations against the advertising industry’s continued work with fossil fuel and other high-carbon and polluting clients.

Following Greenpeace’s large-scale operation at this year’s Cannes festival, activists reported hearing that many creatives feel they have “no authority to speak up” against these briefs.

Turner says it is only through having these difficult conversations that progress is made and that, even though young people “might feel particularly precarious in their roles at the moment” due to the cost-of-living crisis, Glimpse is “trying to highlight that there’s solidarity in numbers and reassure people that they’re not alone”.

He says: “We want the very best talent declaring that they no longer want to work with fossil fuel companies and that they will choose the agencies they work at and the projects they work on according to that.”

To better understand the views of the campaign’s target audience, Glimpse partnered with YouGov to survey the attitudes of 100 UK creatives aged 18 to 30, with the results showing that the widespread presence of high-carbon clients is creating career problems for many of them.

More than three in five of the creatives surveyed (63%) said they were uncomfortable working on high-carbon clients. But only two in five (40%) said they would feel comfortable refusing to work on them in an agency setting.

Work & Wellbeing Agency Culture Climate Crisis

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