During a week when environmental activists are calling attention to and protesting the work that hundreds of agencies are doing to help promote fossil fuel companies — particularly exaggerated claims regarding clean energy development efforts — gas and oil giant Shell has appointed Havas as its global media agency after a formal review.
The client has worked with WPP for nearly two decades on the account. The switch takes effect Jan. 1, 2024.
Shell spent an estimated $240 million on measured media globally in 2022 according to agency research firm COMvergence.
The award comes the same week that Clean Creatives put out its so-called “F-List” that purports to expose the top-ranked agencies by how many accounts they have promoting fossil fuel companies and their activities. WPP tops the holding company list with 55 such contracts.
Havas also made the list with a handful of contracts for companies like BP, Imperial Oil & Gas and others.
Clean Creatives staged a small demonstration outside Havas offices in New York to protest the new contract.
The group issued a statement asserting that Shell is “one of the main culprits of the climate crisis, and one that has deceived the public about the role of oil, gas and coal in driving the greatest threat facing humanity.”
Clean Creatives Executive Director Duncan Meisel added, "Prior to this contract, it looked like Havas was on track to reduce its involvement with fossil fuel polluters. Taking on Shell's media contract is a huge step backward and does real damage to Havas' work to distinguish itself as a sustainability and purpose leader in the ad industry.”
Havas and Shell confirmed the new contract in separate statements.
Havas stated: “We are invested in supporting companies through their growth and transformation journeys. We are pleased to have been appointed Shell’s global strategic media buying agency and look forward to working with the Shell team to ensure consumers are better informed about the range of energy solutions it is providing today and investing in for the future.”
A Shell spokesperson added, “Shell has appointed Havas Media as its global B2C strategic media buying agency from 1 January 2024. We routinely review our advertising contracts to ensure they align with Shell’s business strategy.”
There was some fallout for Havas after the Shell award became public. PR subsidiary Havas Red lost a short-term contract with the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative.