“Backing Britain”? BP reported to advertising regulator as profits triple

As energy giant BP records its highest profits in 14 years and households reel from skyrocketing energy bills, BP’s current “Backing Britain” advertising campaign rings extremely hollow.

CEO Bernard Looney has repeated the line that BP are “Backing Britain” whilst also describing the energy firm as “literally a cash machine” and receiving a doubling in his personal salary to £4.5 million off the back of rising energy prices that are crippling households.

BP’s aggressive advertising campaign promotes the firm as “helping to deliver energy security and net zero“. In response to the greenwashing and social irresponsibility of these ads, Adfree Cities and Adblock Norwich have today submitted a joint complaint to the UK ad regulator, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and are encouraging others to make similar complaints.

BP’s “Backing Britain” advert on a digital ad screen in Norwich.

BP’s record profits of £6.9bn for the second quarter of the financial year are triple what they were in the same period just a year ago. Meanwhile, household energy bills are soaring to ever greater heights, risking extreme consequences for millions who are already struggling to pay their bills. Over ⅕ of excess winter deaths are thought to be directly linked to cold homes: that was before these price hikes.

BP’s “Backing Britain” ad campaign adds insult to injury. And it will likely come as no surprise that this campaign was doused in greenwash, from the neon green font to the bogus suggestion that fossil fuels make up only a relatively small part of their business – in reality the vast majority of their business is still in the oil and gas exploration and development that will only worsen the climate crisis.

The ads misleadingly suggest that BP:

  • Has a meaningful and timely plan to transition from oil and gas to low carbon energy provision.
  • Is focusing its investments in the transition to net zero. 
  • Has an ambition to deliver energy security and net zero that is foundationally based on the provision of renewable energy.
  • Is working hard to benefit the short and long term interests of Britain and British people by “Backing Britain”.

The adverts are deemed to breach advertising codes of practice (the Codes) through making misleading environmental claims and failing to act responsibly towards the environment and society.

If you want to make a complaint to the ad regulator, simply go to the ASA’s Make a complaint webpage and add a couple of paragraphs about why you object to the advert (we have summarised our complaint here if you’d like some pointers, but bear in mind your complaint doesn’t have to be long). You can attach a photo of the advert – either one you’ve spotted yourself or one taken from this blog. Contact us at hello@adfreecities.org.uk if you’d like more info or if we can support.

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