“The Ad Shell Would Never Make” Joe Lycett Accuses Shell of ‘Greenwashing’
As part of his new Channel 4 documentary, Joe Lycett vs the Oil Giant, the comedian turned consumer-rights champion stars in this spoof advertisement by Rumpus Media.
For those of you who can’t stomach watching the advert yourselves, I’ll give a you a brief overview. Joe Lycett is dressed as Shell CEO Ben van Beurden. Whenever Lycett/Beurden attempts to discuss Shell’s environmental policies he vomits – forcing the advert to cut to images of nature, or footage of the model Lily Cole, to distract the viewer.
The advert, and the documentary as a whole, takes issue with Shell’s “greenwashing”: attempts to make Shell’s actions appear sustainable through advertising campaigns which focus on nature and renewable energy. In reality, Shell produce emissions equal to the entirety of Russia and invest only $900m of their total annual investments (of $116bn!) towards renewable energy.
Channel 4 recently ran a legitimate Shell advert, which focused on an environmentally-conscious inventor and keen cyclist who designs solar panels. Lycett argues that because Shell paid C4 to air this greenwashing advert, and C4 then in turn paid him to make the documentary, “Shell are paying for this programme. Haha!”
The documentary has received mixed reviews, with The Guardian rating it 4/5 stars, whilst The Telegraph described it as “a waste of time and energy.” At the time of writing, Shell have not issued an official response, although a recent Tweet from Lycett suggests that an interested party may have been monitoring his communications.
BBC and ITV Announce Environmental Goals Ahead of COP26
In anticipation of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP26, which continues until November 12th, the BBC and ITV have revealed plans to reduce their environmental impact.
The BBC have set a goal to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 – a goal that has been approved by the external body The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). The BBC hopes to achieve net zero by radically reducing and eventually eventually eliminating fossil fuel usage across its operations – everything from reducing business travel, to using hydrogen generators on programmes like Winterwatch.
ITV are also looking ahead to 2030, and hope to achieve a 100% sustainable supply chain by then. Much like the BBC, their plans are ambitious and wide-reaching; ITV aim to change both internal policy and influence viewers’ behaviour to be more sustainable. One change, which particularly caught my attention, is the phasing out of petrol and diesel cars as prizes for on-air competitions – something I don’t think I would have thought to consider!
Can We Trust Netflix’s Viewing Figures? Jim Waterson Investigates.
In the Broadcast Team, we pay a LOT of attention to television viewing figures. We have access to this information thanks to the Broadcasters Audience Research Board, or BARB. BARB collects data from 5,300 homes, which are intended to be representative of the UK as a whole. These figures are publicly accessible, and crucial for journalists, critics, and the advertising industry.
However, one shortfall of BARB is that they are unable to collect data about subscription video on demand services, like Netflix. As Netflix relies on subscriptions, rather than advertising, to make their money, there is no incentive for them to release their viewing figures publicly – unless it’s to brag about the success of a smash hit like Squid Game.
In a recent edition of TechScape, The Guardian’s tech newsletter, journalist Jim Waterson challenges the idea that we should simply take Netflix at its word when it comes to viewing statistics. Whilst apparently over 142 million households have watched Squid Game, Waterson points out that an individual only needs to watch two minutes of a series’ opening episode for Netflix to count them as a viewer.
The Bristol-based analytics firm, Digital i, have taken on the challenge of trying to trying to independently record Netflix viewing data. Their work has revealed some stats which Netflix might have preferred to keep secret. For example, in 2020, British Netflix users spent more time watching old episodes of Friends than big-budget original series The Crown.
“Class Polish” – The Department for Opportunities Highlight the Class Pay Gap
Did you know that last Friday, the 29th of October, was the inaugural Class Pay Gap Day? The aim of the day is to raise awareness of Britain’s “class pay gap”: middle-class employees being paid more than their working class counterparts. Research from the UK Government’s Social Mobility Commission has found that when people from working-class backgrounds enter professional occupations, their more privileged peers still earn an average £6,000 more per year – or a difference of 60 days’ pay.
Advertising agency Creature London have partnered with the Department for Opportunities (the campaigning arm of the charity The Social Mobility Foundation) to create a campaign across OOH, print, social media, TV, and cinema. The campaign, starring Scottish comedian, Fern Brady, plays on the idea of “polish” – the markers of a privileged background, such as accent, which are often viewed as evidence of ability or potential in the workplace.
You can watch the advert above, or read more about the Department for Opportunities here.