ExxonMobil LNG ad claims shot down in ‘green’ flames
On the back of the tricky ‘green marketing responsibility’ issue, ExxonMobil is considering a challenge to the UK ad watchdog after a TVC it produced promoting its liquefied natural gas (LNG) development was banned for claiming the fuel was one of the cleanest sources of energy and environmentally friendly.
According to a report by Brand Republic, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) decided to investigate the ad, which featured three ExxonMobil employees, Claudia Napolitano, Alan Kelly and Emma Cochrane, talking to camera about LNG and the energy challenges facing the world, after receiving four complaints about the company’s environmental record.
The spokespeople talk about the challenges faced by the world in regard to energy generation, how we’ll need to use all the available (oil and gas, coal, nuclear, wind and solar). But it was the ad’s reference to LNG that pricked up the Ad Standards ears.
“Natural gas is one of the world’s cleanest fuels but most of it is found far from where it’s needed. We have a number of different technologies that were developing to ensure a reliable supply of natural gas for Europe.”
The ASA argued that viewers would interpret the ad as claiming natural gas was clean in comparison to all the energy sources listed in the ad.
For the ASA (and the four viewers who contacted them over the ad), its challenge to ExxonMobil is a timely reminder of how careful companies must be when making ‘green’ claims without considering the consequences.
Cooper’s Brewery knows only too well – it got into trouble for alleged green washing in relation to its beer products. Saab got into an equal amount of trouble for its ‘planting trees for cars’ claims.
Nick Thomas, the corporate affairs director for Esso (ExxonMobil’s UK subsidiary), says “Our advertisement accurately stated that natural gas is one of the world’s cleanest fuels, that liquefied natural gas will play an important role in delivering new energy supplies, and that all forms of energy will be needed to meet growing demand.”
Funnily enough, Clearcast, the organization responsible for reviewing television advertisements before they gone on the air and the ASA’s own Investigations Executive didn’t think there was anything wrong with the ad.