Adfree Cities Newsletter – November 2022

In really exciting news, our complaint against greenwashing adverts by HSBC has finally been upheld by the ad regulator! The adverts were outright banned, in a world first ruling against a bank. 

This week we’re launching a new Citizen Science project, Adspotters. Join in to help us gather much-needed data on food and drink adverts, and a chance to win £50.

And, as an energy supply crisis threatens us with possible power cuts this winter, sign our petition to the UK government switch off billboards at night to save energy.

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“Greenwashing” HSBC adverts banned

HSBC’s greenwashing “climate change” adverts have finally been banned by the UK advertising regulator for failing to mention the bank’s massive investments in fossil fuels. Big thanks to all of you who submitted complaints after our call to action last October.

Robbie Gillett of Adfree Cities told the Evening Standard: “This is a significant moment in the fight to prevent banks from greenwashing their image. HSBC can no longer ply us with ads pretending they are green while continuing to bankroll climate breakdown in the background.

Read the full story and press coverage in our blog.


Adspotters: Join our Citizen Science project

Introducing Adspotters, our new Citizen Science project! Can you help us gather data on advertising across the UK, to help stop ads that harm our health and the environment?

All you need to do to join is take photos of adverts in bus shelters that feature food and drink (see McCrispy ad above for an example), and send them in to us. Your participation, however small, is much appreciated!

Find out more and sign up here.


Petition to switch off billboards at night

As Ofgem and National Grid warn that UK households face a “significant risk” of power cuts this winter, we’re asking the Government to help save energy for where it is most needed – homes, schools and hospitals – not pointless advertising.

Sign the petition to switch off digital billboards overnight.


Take action against Coca-Cola’s greenwash ads

Coca-Cola, the world’s top plastic polluter, is advertising its ‘attached caps’ recycling scheme in a bid to seem environmentally-friendly and shift the responsibility onto us to clean up the mess it’s made. 

Coca-Cola is no friend to the environment – the plastic giant produces 200,000 plastic bottles every minute, which are choking our rivers and oceans and altering entire ecosystems. 

We know the advertising regulator has its eye on greenwashing – let’s keep up the pressure: Report Coca-Cola’s ads to the ASA.


Advert exorcisms, billboard blocking and more: from across the Adfree Cities network

Our Adblock groups have all been busy fighting new billboards! If you’re in London, help Adblock Lewisham to block a giant new ‘mind-melting’ digital screen, and check out Adblock Lambeth and the Stop Shopping Choir in Brixton Buzz after the group staged an amazing musical, exorcism-involving protest against a local increase in billboards.

Adblock Bristol have been taking a ‘Big Box’ on tour around the city to raise objections against 27 new pavement-blocking ad units, while Adblock Hackney is celebrating three fewer billboards in the borough.

Find and join an Adblock group near you!


Thank you for supporting Adfree Cities

If you are interested in Adfree Cities and the work we do, there are plenty of ways to get involved. We’re always interest to know your feedback and thoughts: get in touch

If you’d like to donate to our campaign as we tackle greenwash, stand up for our public spaces and take on the juggernaut of commercial advertising, you can do so here: adfreecities.org.uk/donate

In solidarity,

Charlotte and the Adfree Cities team

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @adfreecities

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