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Edelman flips on fossils

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The global PR firm has a long history with fossil fuels. But in 2015 it promised to change its ways after its support of climate deniers damaged its reputation and threatened the bottom line.

Now the company has quietly flipped – as demonstrated by a change to its website.

BEFORE

AFTER

You will notice the new title replaces ‘climate change’ with ‘energy’. This is a trick also used by oil, coal and gas companies calling themselves ‘energy’ companies.

It reads like a classic greenwashing statement of any fossil fuel company with the words ‘cleaner energy’ (not clean), framed as part of the greater need to provide ‘reliable, affordable’ power. Likewise, the need to address climate change is falsely couched as a something that must be balanced with economic growth. Remember, renewables are a source of greater potential economic growth than legacy industries.

CONTROVERSIAL CLIENTS

Buzzfeed has found that Edelman is working for the controversial American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers in the U.S.

Edelman Australia works for Viva Energy, the licensee for Shell Australia and maker of fuels, lubricants, bitumen and chemicals. Edelman produced a VR experience for Viva Energy and also promotes Shell diesel, as we discovered in its Year in Review video. (For those who think diesel cars are better for the environment than petrol, read this quick fact check.)

In 2018, Edelman Australia also worked on WWF’s Earth Hour, promoting the move to renewable energy. Fortunately, WWF has moved agencies.

BUT UNILEVER…

However, Unilever still uses Edelman for several of it’s brands, such as Dove. Unilever is working hard to achieve net zero across all its products by 2039. In fact, it’s CEO, Alan Jope told Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity that it’s time to stop “woke washing” and his company would not work with creative teams “with a track record of purpose washing”. 

Given its leadership role on climate, Unilever should reconsider its choice of agency.

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