Ad Age reached out to all of the agencies and companies cited by Clean of Creatives shortly after the billboards were announced.
“A small number of IPG agencies create marketing for carbon-intensive companies that have been clients for some time,” IPG said in a statement. “In 2022, we began to proactively review the climate impacts of prospective clients that operate in the oil, energy and utility sectors before accepting new work. Since that time and as a result of that policy, we have, on multiple occasions, turned down potential new business opportunities.”
Havas stated that it is “invested in supporting all companies in their communications provided that they are actively engaged in a transformation journey. Our goal is to involve our clients, talents, and suppliers in a responsible communications approach, and to raise the standards of the profession.” Havas also shared details on its efforts, which include a mandatory training program for employees “on ways to detect and avoid greenwashing, prioritize low-carbon impact campaigns and understand the impact of their work on consumer behavior,” measuring GHG emissions linked to the production and distribution of campaigns and raising awareness of their impact among clients as well as promoting “eco-designed solutions.”
Omnicom declined to comment. Edelman declined to comment on the campaign but shared that it has incorporated its climate principles into its client acceptance process, discontinued work with some clients and turned down new opportunities that did not meet its standards.
Nayantara Dutta, research director, Clean Creatives, said ad and PR agencies working with fossil fuel companies “use their language carefully” to discuss how they are carrying out their various sustainability efforts.
“They like to talk about their ambitions to be more sustainable, but we haven’t seen as much in terms of concrete commitments,” she said. “If there are concrete commitments, even those benchmarks are quite vague and our research leads us to believe that’s done on purpose.”
Dutta said Clean Creatives scoured various documents to uncover the contracts exposed in its report, including paid advertising disclosures, commercial credits, social media websites and company websites.
“There is a very significant amount of PR and advertising activity for the fossil fuel industry that exists even today, despite all of the public attention that agencies are receiving for their sustainability commitments,” Dutta said.