A group of over 100 creators, experts and educators have released a joint letter urging global PR firm Edelman to stop working with fossil fuel companies. The group includes leaders in the PR sector as well as other like-minded individuals. Among those who signed the letter include Ilana Glazer, Amy Poehler, Lindsey Peoples Wagner, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Sophia Bush, Maria Popova, Philippe Cousteau and Chani Nicholas.
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The letter was written in response to Edelman’s recent efforts to engage with the environmentalist community on behalf of its clients. As a leader in the PR field, Edelman is responsible for serious misinformation that has led the public to adopt harmful practices. Alongside other PR brands, Edelman has helped promote the use of plastics and fossil fuels. PR firms promote a positive image of fossil fuel companies, resulting in public misguidance.
Earlier this year, Edelman’s secrete work with fossil fuel giant Exxon was exposed by Clean Creatives. Clean Creatives is a group that organizes leading agencies and creatives to stop working with fossil fuel companies. Since November 2020, the group has gathered commitments from over 180 agencies and over 600 individuals.
Deceptive marketing tricks used by companies such as Edelman help polluting corporations mislead the public. Although some citizens remain misguided about climate change, scientists globally agree that burning fossil fuels is to blame for the climate crisis. A recent paper published in Environmental Research Letters shows that 99% of scientists globally agree climate change is caused by human activities such as burning fossil fuels.
“Edelman’s fancy ads are giving ExxonMobil social license to operate, and to thereby destroy our climate. With this campaign, culture makers are using their own social clout to say ‘not on my watch. #EdelmanDropExxon,’” said Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, one of the organizers of the letter.
The group is now calling on other players in the industry to use their space wisely to try and change the situation. “The truth is, it’s time for all of us with platforms to start using our influence in ways which holds truth to power when discussing the climate crisis,” said Aja Barber, another organizer of the letter.
Some experts say that PR agencies should be held accountable for their roles in promoting fossil fuels. Their misleading advertisements have not only emboldened the public to use harmful products but have also slowed responses from the government.