Cartoon image of a man in a gas mask with fossil fuel company logos on his jacket holding up a green smiling mask front of his face with a speech bubble saying 'eco, sustainable, net zero, carbon neutral, green'. Behind him is a grey cloud dripping oil. Above him in red letters it says 'Enough with the greenwashing - Ban fossil fuel ads'.

Adfree Cities newsletter – June 2023

We hope you’re feeling positive after the amazing news on Shell’s greenwashing ad ban last week, we certainly are! Find out how you can support a UK-wide ban on fossil fuel advertising, to stop greenwash at its source.

We bring you news of a disproportionate and heavy-handed reaction to Adblock Lambeth’s most recent action, an introduction to our expanding team and an invitation to a webinar on emerging issues in high carbon advertising.

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Write to your MP to demand a UK Fossil Ad Ban

We were thrilled that earlier this month the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) backed our complaint against Shell over the oil giant’s misleading, greenwashing ads which appeared on billboards, TV and online last year.

At the same time, the ASA also banned ads by Spanish oil company Repsol, which appeared in the Financial Times.

The rulings not only ban the ads from being used again but also set a strong precedent that fossil fuel companies can’t advertise themselves as ‘green’ based on their token clean energy initiatives without including the full context of their other, climate-wrecking operations.

As amazing as these wins are, however, they highlight the limitations of regulation. Banning greenwash ads is slow, reactive and relies too heavily on campaigns like ours to make complaints. What we need is proactive legislation to stop greenwash at its source.

That’s why we’re calling for tobacco-style laws to ban fossil fuel advertising altogether. When we realised the harms caused by smoking, government took action to protect the public and banned tobacco advertising. Now we need the same approach for fossil fuels.

And we need your help! Changing the law means getting the support of MPs. We have a draft letter you can send to your MP calling on them to support a tobacco-style ban on fossil fuel advertising.

Take action today! Write to your MP.


Heavy-handed response to Adblock Lambeth action

A street scene with a man in a hat standing next to two policemen in uniform all looking at a digital billboard with their backs to the camera. The text on the billboard reads 'ads seen here help fund local services'
Photo credit Camille Aboudaram

Recently Adblock Lambeth led a community walk around the borough highlighting the number of digital ad screens on the pavements and at bus stops, and using anti-advertising slogan tape to draw attention to the impact of these on local people and the environment.    

They were met with a very heavy handed response to this from ad company Clear Channel UK, including a ‘cease and desist’ letter from their lawyers, 3 police officers, and a message on the screens trying to confirm the advertisers social credentials!

Unsurprisingly the police were not at all concerned and let them continue but does this herald further crackdowns on peaceful anti-advertising activism? Read more here.


Webinar: Emerging issues in high-carbon advertising

An end to climate-damaging advertising is getting closer every day, but which industries should be considered under a ‘tobacco-style’ advertising ban?

We often talk about the damage caused by advertising for extra flights, SUVs and climate-wrecking fossil fuel companies – but there are other sectors that it makes no sense to promote. Is it controversial to ban advertising for fast fashion, animal products and long-distance cruises? Or is this just plain common sense?

Join a brilliant panel of experts in a thought-provoking lunchtime webinar hosted by Adfree Cities and Badvertising on Thursday 28 June, 1-2pm, as we launch our new position paper: Emerging Issues in High-Carbon Advertising.


Introducing…

Adfree Cities are delighted to welcome some new staff members!

  • Jay joins us as our Parliamentary Campaigner from a background in lobbying around drugs policy reform. Jay explains his interest in counter-advertising work in this blog.
  • John has come on board as our Big Oil Greenwash Campaigner, bringing creative expertise in writing and content production and immediately got stuck in, joining our demo outside greenwashing ad agency Wunderman Thompson (see photo above right, credit Angela Christofilou).

Keep an eye on our website to find out more about the whole team.


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 hear your 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,

The Adfree Cities team

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @adfreecities or join our national Facebook group to share updates and information from organisers and campaigners across the country.

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