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Agencies Climate Crisis Sustainable Transformation

Activists hijack Ad Net Zero’s social media accounts on day of US launch


By Ellen Ormesher, Senior Reporter

February 7, 2023 | 7 min read

Climate activists are holding the Ad Net Zero accounts hostage over the industry’s failure to cut ties with fossil fuels.

Clean Creatives

Clean Creatives took to social media to pressure Ad Net Zero to take a stance against fossil fuels / Clean Creatives

Ad Net Zero, which was set up in the UK in 2020 as “advertising’s response to the climate crisis” went global last year, boasting support from all the major holding companies, as well as the trade bodies and Cannes Lions.

Today, it announced the launch of its efforts in the US, as the climate action initiative “seeks to drive sustainable change in the world’s largest adspend market.”

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But an apparent failure to register the Ad Net Zero handle on Twitter, Instagram and TikTok left room for climate advocacy group, Clean Creatives, to steal the spotlight, as it applies pressure on the network to cease working with some of the world’s biggest polluters.

“Ad Net Zero is intended to be ‘the ad industry’s response to the climate crisis’ but it’s backed entirely by agencies that work with major fossil fuel polluters, and it includes no guidelines on what clients agencies should work with,” said Clean Creative’s director, Duncan Meisel.

“WPP, Omnicom and Interpublic are examples of Ad Net Zero sponsors, yet they work with ExxonMobil. Together, these agencies report approximately 6m tons of CO2 in their carbon footprint, whereas Exxon reports 690m tons. Growth of less than 1% by Exxon would render any action from Ad Net Zero redundant.”

Clean Creatives social media

Responding to the antics, a spokesperson from Ad Net Zero told The Drum: “As we launch the US chapter, we will continue to work as hard as we can to help create broad industry collaboration to tackle climate change.

“We are determined to achieve the best possible result by helping our industry to decarbonize its operations through training, tools, reports and insights, and by encouraging the promotion of sustainable products, services and behaviors.”

Explaining how Clean Creatives managed to impersonate the group, Meisel said: “For some reason, it never reserved the @AdNetZero handles on Twitter, Instagram, or TikTok. We decided to register them ourselves so we could have an honest conversation about what it would really mean to get to Net Zero in the ad industry.”

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Several major NGOs, including Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace UK have also written to the UK government expressing their concern about Ad Net Zero’s exclusion of advertising’s Scope 3 emissions in its climate plan.

Previously, Ad Net Zero chair, Seb Munden told The Drum that the industry body had no plans to sever ties with fossil fuels clients, stating “we cannot leave huge swathes of the industry behind.”

Clean Creatives has rebutted saying, “we are happy to give the @AdNetZero accounts to the Ad Association’s Ad Net Zero team if they’d like to use them. Our only request is that they offer a plan to address the role of fossil fuel clients before we hand them over.”

Agencies Climate Crisis Sustainable Transformation

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