WPP has defended its work for main power firms, saying it is going to proceed to assist them with their advertising and marketing, after Greenpeace staged a collection of protests at Cannes Lions, together with sending a flotilla of kayaks to WPP’s rented seashore area.
Mark Learn, the chief govt of WPP, advised Marketing campaign that Greenpeace was “proper” to spotlight the local weather disaster however he insisted power firms wanted to be “a part of the answer” and they need to be capable of “market” to customers “in a good and correct means” concerning the steps they had been taking to maneuver to a lower-carbon financial system.
Greenpeace was concerned in three incidents at Cannes Lions because the environmental group known as for a ban on “fossil advertisements and sponsorship” and urged promoting firms “to chop ties with the fossil gas trade.”
First, Gustav Martner, a Greenpeace activist and former Cannes Lions-winning artistic, interrupted the awards ceremony on the opening night within the Palais, the principle pageant venue, on Monday. Then dozens of protestors descended on WPP’s seashore on Wednesday afternoon and extra protestors used a truck ladder to scale the Palais on Thursday morning.
Learn, talking on the finish of the five-day pageant, when WPP was named essentially the most artistic firm after profitable essentially the most Lions awards, described Greenpeace’s protests as an “inconvenience.”
“They’re proper to spotlight the issue of local weather change and the impression of carbon on the financial system,” he mentioned. “On the similar time, all of us have a task to play in lowering the degrees of carbon and I believe power firms must be a part of the answer as a lot as anyone else.
“Our job at WPP is to assist them discuss in a good and correct means concerning the steps they’re taking to maneuver to that lower-carbon financial system.”
WPP’s shoppers embrace BP and Shell, though Learn didn’t cite any of them by title.
He identified WPP, the world’s largest company group with about 109,000 employees, will solely work with power shoppers that adhere to sure international requirements on carbon emissions.
“We’ve got mentioned we don’t need to work with any power firm that seeks to frustrate the Paris Settlement [the commitment to reduce carbon emissions and limit global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees compared with pre-industrial levels],” he mentioned.
Learn added there was a client profit for power firms to have the ability to market their services and products.
“If power firms can’t market or discuss concerning the steps that they’re taking to maneuver to a low-carbon financial system, how do customers select to work with the businesses that do?” he mentioned.
“On the similar time, we are able to’t interact in greenwashing [on behalf of energy companies] – we are able to’t misrepresent what they do. We practice our individuals and educate our individuals on advertising and marketing requirements.”
He admitted it was “a problem” for WPP to get the stability proper between serving to power firms to market their merchandise and avoiding greenwashing.
It’s thought that the entire world’s massive six company teams have power shoppers. Britain’s WPP was among the many most seen at Cannes Lions as a result of it rented a personal seashore – because it did in 2019, the final time that the pageant passed off in-person earlier than the pandemic.
Japan’s Dentsu was the one different main company group that had a beachfront area. Expertise giants together with Google, Meta and Spotify rented a lot of the different prime spots.
“You do fear about ensuring our individuals and our shoppers are protected”
Requested if he had considerations about safety at Cannes Lions after Greenpeace was in a position to stage the protests, Learn mentioned: “I don’t have a priority about the way in which that it has been dealt with. The organisers and the police have dealt with it very effectively.”
The authorities had been “wonderful at speaking to us about what would occur and responding to the occasion” at WPP’s seashore, particularly, he mentioned.
It’s understood that WPP took a conciliatory method and let the Greenpeace activists use the lavatory amenities after they arrived on the seashore.
Learn added: “For most individuals, the crane on the Palais was a minor inconvenience – they couldn’t drive down the Croisette. It’s not the top of the world. In comparison with international warming, it’s a minor inconvenience.”
The WPP chief did nonetheless specific some considerations about security: “Within the present setting, you do fear about ensuring our individuals and our shoppers are protected at occasions like this.”
Requested if Cannes Lions deliberate to evaluate safety, a pageant spokesperson advised Marketing campaign: “We completely respect the proper to peaceable protest and our major concern is at all times the protection of Cannes Lions attendees and the broader metropolis of Cannes.
“Final week’s Greenpeace actions had been managed by the police and the Metropolis of Cannes and at no stage did the protests impression the supply of the occasion.
“We usually evaluate policing and safety preparations for the pageant with the Metropolis of Cannes, together with tips on how to handle peaceable protests by non-violent teams comparable to Greenpeace and any peaceable affiliate organisations they could be in partnership with.”
Sustainability featured prominently on the speaker agenda at this 12 months’s Cannes Lions. At a session known as “By 2030, each advert can be a inexperienced advert”, a worldwide coalition of leaders from main manufacturers, company teams, tech firms and advert associations dedicated to increase Advert Internet Zero, the UK advert trade’s sustainability initiative, to the US and Europe.
Nonetheless, Greenpeace mentioned the advert trade was not doing sufficient to fight local weather change, explaining why it needed to “name out promoting businesses” at Cannes Lions and accusing them of being “complicit in spreading disinformation across the local weather disaster and selling their [clients’] polluting merchandise”.
The environmental campaigning group mentioned: “Because the Paris Settlement a minimum of 300 awards have been given out in Cannes to promoting for extra air journey, to grease firms that greenwash and to advertisements that make automobiles with polluting combustion engines extra fascinating.
“PR and promoting holdings and businesses comparable to Accenture, Publicis, WPP and Edelman, current on this occasion, have just lately introduced they may decide to attaining ‘carbon neutrality’ (internet zero) and inside sustainability insurance policies.
“Nonetheless, all these companies proceed to work for the fossil gas trade serving to them promote their picture and the alleged environmental virtues of oil and fossil gasoline and, in consequence, block the speedy local weather motion required.”
WPP’s awards at this 12 months’s Cannes Lions included work for Greenpeace. VMLY&R Brazil gained Gold for Greenpeace’s Los Santos +3°C – an internet recreation that lets customers expertise life in a digital metropolis beneath the stress of maximum climate occasions.