Read time: 9 mins
By Mat Hope • Wednesday, April 11, 2018 – 10:52
Shell knew about the relationship between burning fossil fuels and climate change as early as the 1980s. So what did the company decide to do about it? Stop burning fossil fuels?
No. It changed its advertising strategy.
A tranche of documents uncovered last week by Jelmer Mommers of De Correspondent published on Climate Files, a project of the Climate Investigations Center, revealed that Shell knew about the danger its products posed to the climate decades ago. The company has continued to double-down on fossil fuel investment since the turn of the century despite this knowledge.
But in the wake of a bribery scandal in Nigeria that resulted in two dozen employees being fired, the company was concerned enough about its dirty image to work out a new PR strategy.
That strategy was presented in a document from 1999 entitled ‘Listening and Responding: The Profits and Principles Advertising Campaign’. The dossier shows the origins of Shell’s PR strategy to clean up its image, enacted over the past two decades.
And what does it show? “Greenwashing”, Savannah Law School associate professor Judd Sneirson told DeSmog UK — Shell is “misleading consumers about its environmental practices”.
And it’s easy to find examples of the strategy being deployed right through to today.
In the document, Shell presents “the first pool of examples” of adverts that allow the company “the opportunity to extend our point of view in a frank and open way”. The document includes a series of adverts — some real, some hypothetical — in a ‘don’t do this; do this’ format.
This slideshow put together by DeSmog UK shows the negative and positive adverts side-by-side:
One of the first adverts in the dossier concerns climate change. The document recommended the company tackles the issue head-on; Shell should “clear the air”, not “cloud the issue”.
The hypothetical bad advert reads: “Is the burning of fossil fuels and increased carbon dioxide in the air a serious threat or just a load of hot air?” This is not what Shell should advertise, the document suggested.
Instead, the document recommended Shell promotes its ‘green’ activities such as its commitment to the Kyoto Protocol, natural gas production and sustainable development.
How Shell Greenwashed its Image as Internal Documents Warned of Fossil Fuels’ Contribution to Climate Change | DeSmog UK
Read time: 9 mins By Mat Hope • Wednesday, April 11, 2018 – 10:52 Shell knew about the relationship between burning fossil fuels and climate change as early as the 1980s. So what did the company decide to do about it? Stop burning fossil fuels? No. It changed its advertising strategy. A tranche of documents… [Read More]