Oil Companies Continue to Mislead with Advertising

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Ben Cohen
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By Ben Cohen

The reaction of major oil companies to the overwhelming criticism of their polluting business was not to dramatically change their business, but to dramatically change their advertising. As George Monbiot of the Guardian put it, adverts would feature "Technicians with perfect teeth and open-necked shirts explaining how they were saving the world".

In the U.K, the company Shell was battered by the Advertising Standards Authority and stopped producing the misleading ads in 2006. But according to Monbiot, who interviewed the CEO of Shell, the ads are back, and are as misleading as ever:

Since the interview was filmed,


Shell's messianic tendencies appear to have resurfaced. In December the


company ran a series of ads in the Guardian suggesting again that it


had come to save the world. "Tackling climate change and providing fuel


for a growing population seems like an impossible problem, but at Shell


we try to think creatively", one of these advertisements boasts(7). It


features a diagram of a human brain, divided into sections labelled


"fuel from algae", "fuel from straw", "fuel from woodchips", "hydrogen


fuels", "windfarm", "gas to liquids" and "coal gasification". This


suggests progress of a kind, in that the company is acknowledging that


it sometimes dabbles in fossil fuels, but its core business - oil - and


its massive investments in tar sands are missing from the corporate


mind. Could Shell be having a senior moment?