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The advertising and marketing leaders of the future are being asked to share their attitudes towards working for big oil, coal and gas clients in a new survey.

Comms Declare, an association promoting climate action in the sector, will use the results to pressure heads of agencies that still work with fossil fuel companies.

Climate is the main concern of Australian Millennials and Gen Z, even outranking COVID-19. Deloitte found it’s the primary concern of 33% of young people.

“We’ve heard anecdotally that younger creatives do not want to work on fossil fuel accounts, so we’re asking under 30s to complete this survey and send a very clear message to their bosses,” said Comms Declare Founder, Belinda Noble.

“Our 2020 industry survey found that agency leaders know that climate is an issue for attracting and retaining staff, but a quarter were still taking briefs from energy companies, many of which are our biggest users of coal and gas.”

“We want the best creatives to stop helping fossil fuel clients. We want to starve big oil, coal and gas from using marketing and advertising talent to maintain their brands, because that’s what helps them delay meaningful climate action,” she added.

The survey for under 30s will be promoted with a social media campaign targeting agencies that have fossil fuel clients.

Do the survey


In late 2020, Comms Declare asked leaders of more than 200 of Australia’s largest media, creative and communications agencies about their climate actions.

77 responded, showing:

·       87% agreed climate action is important to attract employees

·       57% were aligning business strategy with climate action

·       67% were committed to net zero by 2040

·       21% worked for fossil electricity companies in the past 12 months

·       13% worked for fossil fuel companies in the past 12 months

The survey results allowed Comms Declare to present the Climate Comms Champion award to Australia’s most climate-friendly agency. It also revealed that, while many agencies were keen to act on climate, most had limited knowledge or resources to take that action and few had concrete policies in place.

New survey of future leaders

Comms Declare, with the Help of The Navigators and Trinity P3 is now surveying industry leaders for a second time but with a twist.

Agency leaders will again be asked about the climate attitudes and initiatives – to gauge what progress, if any, has been made since 2020.

A second survey is open for future leaders – those aged under 30.

The results of the surveys will show what under 30s want from their employers in regards to climate, and reveal where agencies need to improve to attract and retain the best staff.

Surveys over the last few years have shown that climate is the main concern of Australian Millennials and Gen Z, outranking COVID-19.Deloitte found it’s the primary concern of 33% of young people.

Research by PwC found 80% of workers say companies should be taking action to address society’s problems and 38% said they would quit a job “if an employer acted in a way that didn’t align with their values.” 

The campaign

Comms Declare will use the survey results to name Australia’s most climate-friendly agency, the ‘Climate Comms Champion’.

It will also produce a first ‘state of the industry’ report about the sector’s response to the increasing need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and, to the growing unacceptability of promoting coal, oil and gas.

A cheeky social media campaign will name agencies that currently have fossil fuel clients.

Advertising under climate pressure

In Europe, the UK and America, there are increasing movements against ads for coal, gas and petroleum. France has legislated to ban advertising for products with high greenhouse gas emissions. Amsterdam has done the same, as have several UK councils.The Guardian and British Medical Journal are refusing to take fossil fuel advertising.

In the US, there is a campaign against the New York Times for producing fossil fuel ads and there’s been more than 25 court cases against companies for deceiving the public about climate change. A California congressman is seeking to force PR executives to testify to Congress about their campaigns.

In Australia, Comms Declare has more than 300 members and 80 organisations that have declared they will not promote fossil fuels. Comms Declare started in early 2020 as a response to the Black Summer bushfires and the industry’s role in denying, and then greenwashing, products and corporations that continue to damage the climate.