The F-List 2022: Advertising and PR agencies working with the fossil fuel industry

By AdNews | 21 September 2022
Credit: Laura Vinck via Unsplash

Analysis by campaign groups Clean Creatives and Comms Declare has revealed a global list -- the F-List 2022 -- of more than 230 agencies working with the fossil fuel industry.

Belinda Noble at Comms Declare says at least nine Australian advertising and PR agencies are helping coal miner Glencore portray itself as part of a clean energy future.

"Agency executives need to wake up and realise they are actively helping the corporations creating global warming, which is generating unprecedented disasters around the globe," she says. 

Comms Declare has more than 360 members and has facilitated over 200 health professionals and organisations to sign an open letter calling for bans on fossil fuel advertising and sponsorships in Australia.

Key findings of the global report:

  • 239 agencies have done recent work with fossil fuel companies. The vast majority of this work is not shared via agency channels, or with clients whose work may be affected by greenwashing claims. 

  • At least 17 agencies are working for Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest polluter, including a previously undisclosed Interpublic Mediabrands agency, Well7. Interpublic agencies McCann, UM, and Jack Morton have also led substantial work for Aramco, but all holding companies have some connection to the world’s largest oil company, and funder of human rights abuses. 

  • The world’s biggest coal exporter, Glencore is being referred to Australian regulators over a brand campaign ad that features EVs, solar panels and wind turbines - but doesn’t mention coal. 

  • Edelman retains its role as the independent agency doing the most work for fossil fuel companies, despite a pledge in early 2022 to review its client policy. 

In Australia, Comms Declare, has calculated the agencies involved in fossil fuel across several categories, using Scope 1 and 2 emissions data from their clients.

comms declare sept 2022

Belinda Noble: “Big Red won the big prize nobody wanted - AGL’s creative account and, combined with its work for BHP, its Scope 3 emissions now represent more than 10% of Australia’s total greenhouse gas pollution - on par with Libya’s annual emissions.

“We calculate UM’s Scope 3 emissions are more than Finland’s, also thanks to their work with AGL.

“GRACosway is the most polluting lobbyist, with clients including Santos, Glencore and BHP, meaning its total client emissions are around 5% of Australia’s, or about the same as Kenya’s.

“Meanwhile GRACosway’s owner Omnicom somewhat hypocritically claims to be ‘actively working to harness our advertising power and influence to promote sustainable consumer choices and behaviors."

UM statement: "UM commits significant time, effort and resources to support its clients as they shape and guide their sustainable efforts for all Australians.   As a company our environmental, social and governance programs are foundational to our vision and purpose.

"AGL has a very clear plan in place working with its stakeholders to shape a sustainable energy future for Australia.  This includes a net zero emissions target date, the bringing forward of the closure of AGL’s coal operations, and the fact they have the largest renewables and storage portfolio of any ASX-listed company, having invested $4.8 billion over two decades in renewable and firming generation.

"As an agency, UM is committed to supporting that mission and is very proud of its work to help its clients futureproof themselves for a sustainable future."


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