The authorities say that several messages “omitted important information about the general environmental impact of the commercial activities” of these companies.
The Advertising Standards Authority of the United Kingdom (ASA, for its acronym in English) has banned this June 7 several ads from the Spanish company Repsol, the British Shell and the Malaysian Petronas.
According to the regulator, a Repsol advertisement and several advertisements from the other two companies were considered misleading because they “omitted important information about the general environmental impact of the commercial activities” of these companies.
“At Repsol we are developing biofuels and synthetic fuels to achieve net zero emissions,” was one of the messages questioned by the officials, as well as: “in the southwest [de Bristol]78,000 homes use 100% renewable electricity from Shell Energy.” In the second case, similar ads were broadcast across the UK. In turn, Petronas’ advertising contained exaggerations about the environmental benefit of its business activities.
ASA indicated that products that pollute the environment remain predominant in the business of the three firms.
Repsol and Shell expressed their rejection of the rulings of the regulatory authority, according to a report on the matter in the Financial Times newspaper.
In particular, the Spanish company claimed that close to a third of its total investment for the years 2021-2025 has gone to the low carbon footprint business. From the British firm they affirmed that their consumers “were very aware that Shell produces oil and gas, on which they depend”, but it is possible that they did not know that it also invests in “low-carbon and zero-emission energy”. For its part, the Malaysian giant offered no comments to the outlet.
The ban was praised by the NGO Adfree Cities, which had denounced the European oil companies before this instance. The organization’s co-director, Veronica Wignall, said the ban “ends the practice of ‘greenwashing’ fossil fuels in the UK”. “The world’s biggest polluters will not be allowed to say they are ‘green’ in their ads while building new pipelines, refineries and platforms,” he added.
The ASA’s orders state that the ads in question must not reappear in the denounced form. In addition, they specify that mentions of ecological issues in future marketing campaigns must be clear and not omit specific data on how and when companies are going to achieve zero emissions.