Roughly 25 protesters from Extinction Rebellion (XR) visited Edelman’s office in London’s Victoria yesterday, with the aim of calling out greenwashing and speaking directly to employees.
Letters were handed to Edelman staff, requesting that they “cut the ties with oil majors. And if you’re not able to do that, then quit.”
The note to employees continued: “You and your colleagues are bright sparks of creativity. You can change the world if you apply your fresh thinking, creative ideas and influence to catalyse positive change, not exacerbate the climate crisis.
“You are not just facilitating the message on behalf of your clients. You are handing them permission to continue to extract and pollute.”
XR also asked: “Knowing what you know, are you proud of who you work for?”
One of those protesting was ex-Edelman employee Lucy Bridgewater, who left the business in 2014, citing “the agency’s ongoing relationship with oil majors” and her concerns about climate change.
Bridgewater, who now works as an activist co-ordinator at Greenpeace while volunteering with XR, said: “Edelman is a fine one to talk in its Trust Barometer about politicians misleading the public, when Edelman itself has been misleading us all for decades – first as lobbyists for the tobacco industry, and now the fossil-fuel industry.
She added that she believes the agency “uses its profound understanding of trust to manipulate public perception of our most pressing issues”.
A spokesperson for Edelman said: “Some groups may question our commitments to addressing climate change, but we strongly disagree with this characterisation of our work.
“Edelman is committed to meeting our clients where they are in their evolution and to supporting them on their sustainability journeys, including those in the energy sector.
“Our climate principles are a core foundation of our vetting process, and we only work with businesses and organisations who are aligned with the Paris Agreement and have published net-zero plans. We have parted ways with several clients and regularly decline new business opportunities because of this principled approach.”
The protest came as part of XR’s ‘cut the ties’ campaign action, a series of demonstrations targeting firms “involved with the fossil-fuel industry”.
XR protested outside Hill+Knowlton’s London office last November, splattering fake oil on the office building. The activist group also targeted Edelman, IPG, WPP and others at the PRWeek UK Awards ceremony in October.