Ad firm Havas wins Shell contract and climate criticism

French advertising agency Havas has won the media account of oil giant Shell, the companies confirmed Wednesday, sparking criticism from campaigners and the immediate walkout of one anti-fossil fuel client.

The deal, which will go into effect at the beginning of next year, comes as organisations are under increasing scrutiny over their climate pledges.

A Havas spokeswoman confirmed the firm was “delighted” to have been selected by Shell as its media buying agency.

“Our aim is to support the Shell team in its ambition to better inform consumers about the range of energy solutions the company offers today and its investments for the future,” she said.

As news of the deal spread this week one client said it took swift action to end its partnership with Red Havas, a subsidiary of the global agency.

The Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative, which is championed by island nations threatened by rising sea levels and increasingly intense tropical storms, said it “immediately terminated” its work with the agency as soon as it learned of the Shell deal.

“They chose the wrong side of history by deciding to support the worst of the worst industry in the world,” said its chair Tzeporah Berman.

“The fossil fuel industry is burning our climate, our communities and our lives. Havas decided to not only burn a client but also to help burn the planet.”

That move was welcomed by Duncan Meisel, executive director of Clean Creatives, which campaigns for the advertising industry to move away from working with fossil fuel firms.

“They recognise there is a conflict of interest between brands and organisations that are trying to create a safe climate future and working with Shell,” he told AFP.

Meisel added that Shell has pledged to extract more fossil fuels when we need to be digging up less.

“There are probably other brands who are sitting in deciding whether they should do the same thing,” he said.

– ‘Very frustrating’ –
Shell announced plans earlier this year to keep its oil output steady until 2030, triggering outcry from green campaigners.

The firm says its overall goal to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 remains intact.

“We routinely review our advertising contracts to ensure they align with Shell’s business strategy,” a Shell spokesperson said of the Havas deal.

Clean Creatives this week published a report into the contracts between the fossil fuel industry and the world’s advertising and public relations firms.

It found that 239 agencies, including those linked to major industry holding companies, have recently worked with fossil fuel companies.

Meisel said the report showed “a lot of people in the ad industry are not listening to the scientific consensus on this issue and that is very frustrating”. (AFP)

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