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'

“Platform for Good”? Major ad company Clear Channel’s ads reported to advertising regulator

Featured Image: Camille Aboudaram

Update (September 2023): The ASA was unable to investigate these adverts. You can read their reasoning, and our responses, here.

Major advertising company Clear Channel UK, whose expanding billboard empire promotes harmful adverts and impacts the environment, is claiming to be a “Platform for Good” in a series of adverts that also make the claims “Ads seen here help fund local services” and “Powered by renewable energy“.

This might sound alarm bells for you, and it certainly did us. Platform for Good? Helping to “fund” local services? Clear Channel is a private corporation that pays cash-strapped local authorities in order to rent public space to make a private profit. By nature, its advertising business harms communities and the environment, and undermines local services such as health and social care.

Take a look at our library of ads seen on CC’s advertising sites in recent months, from adverts promoting gambling, alcohol, vaping and unhealthy food, to adverts for products and companies that cause air pollution and extra emissions to beat up the climate some more, such as fossil fuel companies, red meat, flights and SUVs.

Adfree Cities, Adblock Norwich and the network of local Adblock groups have reported Clear Channel’s adverts to the advertising regulator on the grounds that the ads are greenwashing and mislead citizens over the company’s contribution to local communities, and by misrepresenting its business as beneficial to society and the environment. Read our full complaint and follow our easy instructions to submit your own.

Above: ads for climate-damaging and unhealthy food on Clear Channel billboards in Brighton, 2023

An advertising company exists to fuel material hyper-consumption. To encourage us all to spend more than we should on product we don’t need. Advertising promotes marketing obsolescence – selling us new phones before ours are broken, supercharging a linear economy defined by extraction and waste.

Advertising feeds us insecurities, about our body shape, our looks, our wealth or even the way we spend our time, promising us that we will be ‘better’ if we purchase material items from luxury watches to fizzy drinks to far-flung holidays to skincare products. Ads platformed on Clear Channel sites fuel obesity, diabetes, cardiac illness and cancer by creating a food environment littered with giant images of unhealthy food. Billboard advertising fuels the climate crisis by convincing us to fly more, eat more animal products and drive SUVs around city centres. How can this be a “Platform for Good“?

Take action: Use our easy guide and template complaint to report these ads to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). Our full complaint against Clear Channel’s ads can be found here.

For support with submitting a complaint, or to contact us about an advert, email hello[at]adfreecities.org.uk.

Above: ads promoting alcohol on Clear Channel billboards in Norwich, 2022
Above: ads promoting fast fashion in Bristol, 2023
Nooooooo don’t think so

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