More than 450 scientists have signed a letter calling on advertising and PR agencies to stop working with fossil fuel companies as clients.
The letter was organized by a group of scientists including Michael Mann, the inspiration behind Leonardo DiCaprio’s role in the Netflix film "Don't Look Up," in partnership with advocacy group Clean Creatives and the nonprofit Union of Concerned Scientists.
“As scientists who study and communicate the realities of climate change, we are consistently faced with a major and needless challenge: overcoming advertising and PR efforts by fossil fuel companies that seek to obfuscate or downplay our data and the risks posed by the climate crisis,” the letter reads. “In fact, these misinformation campaigns represent one of the biggest barriers to the government action science shows is necessary to mitigate the ongoing climate emergency.”
As a starting point, the letter was sent today to Edelman and holding companies WPP and the Interpublic Group of Cos., as well as some of the recipients’ “largest sustainability-oriented clients,” including Unilever, Amazon, Microsoft, The North Face among others, according to a statement from Clean Creatives. Moving forward, the advocacy group will look to deliver the letter to every company on Clean Creative’s F-list launched in September that singles out 90 ad and PR agencies that work with fossil fuel corporations, Duncan Meisel, Clean Creative’s co-founder and campaign director said.
“We think that agencies that pride themselves on attracting the best talent and smartest clients should be taking this pledge, because fossil fuel clients are an ongoing threat to their reputation and recruitment,” Meisel said. “Maybe there's always someone who takes the industry's money—but it won't be the top agencies, and they will have diminished clout and reach as a result.”
The letter is the latest example of agencies being put under a magnifying glass when it comes to environmental issues. Earlier this month, Edelman announced that it would “part ways with clients” that don’t adhere to its new environmental, social and governance guidelines following an internal review, which was formed after Clean Creatives petitioned the firm to drop its oil and gas clients, particularly Exxon Mobil and Shell. The results were met with skepticism from the advocacy group because no clients were actually removed from the agency’s portfolio.