JAmy Hein, co-founder of the climate group 350.org, has long noticed the gap in climate advocacy for many: When the fossil fuel industry invests in advertising campaigns, most climate change is not easy. I have the resources to do that.
Inspired to change that, Heinz launched a fossil media to provide public relations and communications support to groups that own the fossil fuel industry and campaign for climate justice.
Fossil media is also trying to change the broader public relations and advertising industry through its innovation campaign, pressuring agencies to cut ties with the fossil fuel industry.
He talked to the Guardian about the power of communication, why we are in the real green age, and it could hurt advertising.
Why did you decide to start a innovation campaign?
As we set up a fossil-free media to send our own message about the need to eliminate fossil fuels and push our priorities forward, we realized that we would not be effective if the fossil fuels industry could decompose at the same time. Tens of millions of dollars behind his own propaganda efforts. So when we were trying to get our message across, we had to put up with the big pollsters. Innocent creatures then appeared instinctively.
He was also upset. Every time a climate campaign is launched, there are millions of dollars in effort to go back: how fake websites, frontline groups, or fake research fossil fuels destroy the economy.
Innovation was a way of trying to figure out how to break down the fossil fuels industry’s ability to disseminate information. This is our attempt to follow the green words and inventions of the industry.
It’s an attempt to appeal to people in the advertising and PR world, look, maybe they came here for creative reasons or to make the world a better place. But innovation has its effect – if a fossil fuel company is advertising a glittering green, no matter how creative it is, or how beautiful it is, it is doing real damage.
What are public relations and advertising agencies asking you to do?
We ask that you promise to stop working with fossil fuels. More than 100 public relations and advertising agencies have signed.
Many agencies have promised not to work with tobacco companies. Fossil fuels kill more people each year than cigarettes, so if you go to draw a red line while smoking, you should definitely do the same with pollution.
We have promised to cancel future contracts with fossil fuels, trade unions or front teams for individuals within those agencies, because we know that many people working in large international partnerships will not be able to change their entire organization. In one night. We want to build momentum in the industry with individual innovations and freelancers.
Then, finally, we promise customers. We know that one of the ways to run a large advertising agency is to actually send a signal to your top customers who are deeply concerned about sustainability and see it as part of their business plan. Agency working with fossil fuels.
I think these are not the only questions companies are asking for from their programs and advertising, even though they have questions from their suppliers or other contractors.
Have you had any struggles with the fossil fuel industry about the campaign?
At first [oil industry lobby group] The American Petroleum Institute actually pushed back and gave some quotes, it was an attack on their ability to get our message out there, in some way a violation of their right to free speech.
The more sophisticated push response we are seeing from companies like BP – “Hey, wait a second, we’re trying to make ads that emphasize the importance of the transition to clean energy. Why is it so important to spread the word about wind turbines and climate change? This is an impetus for some agencies.
But these advertisements are clearly political propaganda designed to block the kind of real action we want. Oil companies are trying to act as if they are at the top of the problem, they are resisting it, they care about it, so we want to be able to get rid of the pressure of the people and eventually the political regulation that forces them to change.
The people who should work with them are engineers, lawyers, and others who are thinking about how to restructure these companies to be part of a clean energy economy. PR and advertising people don’t know how to look good as they continue to pollute the planet.
We are living in a time of real greenery. We are seeing these companies as part of the solution. And I think it’s important to believe that when the next few decades, when people hear about oil companies, they’re worried about the weather. Or, do you have a new business plan?
What are the most effective things companies can do about climate change?
One promises not only pure zero but also a clear zero emission plan. It is important to ensure that they comply with the Paris climate agreement and have a transition plan for the next decade.
But it is also important to get involved in politics. It is important to support the basic advocates that companies can, but it is really important to participate in the political process.
We have heard many times that Apple, Google, or Facebook are putting lobby muscles in the fight against climate change, despite their great statements in the fight against climate change by senators, including the Rhode Island Senator ld Liden White House.
Especially for pure innovations, people should call their advertising and PR stores and ask if they are working with fossil fuels. That doesn’t mean you have to throw it away tomorrow, we know there are contracts and people have a relationship in the past. But what we want to do is really light up that conversation.