The Global View

Shell slammed over ‘greenwash’ ad

Oil and energy giant Shell has received a slap on the wrist from the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) over an advert that appeared in the Financial Times under the headline “We invest today’s profits in tomorrow’s solutions” and touting Shell’s sustainability credentials.

The ad went on to claim that Shell’s investment in unlocking the vast Canadian oil sands deposits was part of this sustainable future.

A complaint was made to the ASA by the World Wildlife Fund UK, challenging whether the oil sands project and plans to build the US’ largest refinery were in fact helping sustainable energy production.

Shell responded with a rather long-winded and detailed explanation of it’s reasons for the ad and debated the definition of the term “sustainable development”, arguing that readers of the financial pink sheet would understand what the company meant.

But the ASA upheld the complaint and ordered that the ad must not appear again in its current form. The ASA also advised Shell to seek copy advice in the future for guidance when preparing similar ads.

This ruling comes just a month after the ASA met with the National Consumer Council and environmental campaigners over the increasing amount of greenwash put forward as fact. With every Tom, Dick and Harry touting their environmental and sustainability credentials right now this is a warning anyone attempting a spot of greenwashing.

The full ASA adjudication can be read here.