Clean Creatives, a group of marketing pros and clients opposed to work promoting the use and benefits of fossil fuel, has issued its third annual “F-list”, a report documenting 500 fossil fuel contracts currently held by nearly 300 advertising and PR agencies for the 2022-23 period.
The release of the report is timed to Climate Week NYC (Sept. 17-24) and is accompanied by an out-of-home campaign targeted at employees of firms listed in the report across New York City. The campaign’s call to action: an industrywide pledge not to work for fossil fuel companies.
The group is not the first to call out marketing companies who work with fossil fuel firms. Agencies who do work with the fossil fuel industry have argued that those clients have a right to promote what steps they might be taking to generate cleaner energy than they had in the past or otherwise combat climate change.
Among the findings in this year's report according to the group:
The holding company with the most fossil fuel contracts is WPP, with 55, despite their global net zero pledge. Holding company Omnicom is second, with 39 contracts.
The holding company agency with the most public fossil fuel contracts is Ogilvy, with at least seven, including the American Petroleum Institute, BP, Petrobras, and more. Agencies with at least six include Hill + Knowlton, GRACosway, DDB and IPG Mediabrands.
Pitch Digital is the independent agency with the most fossil fuel contracts, with 22 contracts concentrated in the Canadian tar sands industry.
The group also had OMD with "at least six" but Omnicom Media Group disputes this number noting that all of Omnicom Media Group includes contracts with four clients: British Gas, BHP, Chevron (all OMD) and Petrol Ofisi (PHD). OMG has asked Clean Creatives to adjust its numbers accordingly.
Clean Creatives also says the report reveals tactics by the marketing companies “for misleading an industry into believing they’re progressing on sustainability goals.”
And it documents ongoing fossil fuel influencer campaigns as well.
“This year’s F-List is a snapshot of agencies in denial about the climate impact of their work for fossil fuels,” stated Duncan Meisel, executive director, Clean Creatives.
“Scientists and global leaders have condemned the work carried out by advertising and PR agencies to spread fossil fuel disinformation, and their warnings demand a response. This is a turning point for the industry – communications agencies who work for oil and gas clients are knowingly accelerating the global climate emergency, and their legal risks will accelerate, too. The ad and PR industry cannot continue to be this far out of step with scientific and political reality and expect to avoid backlash.”
The group also asserts that over 700 agencies in 38 countries, including agencies like Stagwell’s Gale and Forsman & Bodenfors, have signed the Clean Creatives pledge to refuse contracts from fossil fuel corporations.
Additionally, over 1700 creatives have signed the pledge, alongside dozens of brands and a growing list of content creators and influencers.
The F-List 2023 report can be found at cleancreatives.org/f-list.