Rob Mayhew, who is head of influence and retail at FleishmanHillard, regularly posts sketch videos on LinkedIn to his almost 60,000 followers.
One of his latest, captioned “When your agency bans plastic cutlery but has BP as a client”, has gained particular attention, leading PR pros to express their views in the comments.
The video begins with Mayhew looking wide-eyed in disbelief as a mock agency boss proposes strategies for “building better futures”, which include removing single-use cutlery in a step toward net-zero carbon emissions, despite the fact that the agency works with big energy clients.
Responses are largely in solidarity with Mayhew, as those in the comments share anecdotes of similar experiences they’ve had. One writes: “Can’t stop watching this. I SO relate to those facial expressions.”
Other viewers, however, have taken issue with the sketch. One writes: “Your ignorance is astounding. Your naivety is child-like. Your propaganda is dangerous. Of all the supermajor oil companies, you chose to mount a crusade against the one that probably has the most ambitious energy transition programme.”
Mayhew stands by his initial point, telling PRWeek: “I was inspired by the lazy, greedy responses that agencies give about being part of the solution. Do they really think we will buy that?
“Agencies need to just refuse to work with them. I am not putting the blame on the account teams, as I’ve freelanced on a few questionable accounts before, but I hope agency staff have the confidence and protection to ask the senior management: ‘Why are we still working with these clients?’”
In the video, a bemused Mayhew raises his hand and asks: “This is all great, but don’t we have BP as a client? Don’t we have a whole floor dedicated to working for BP, and we have done for years?”
He continues: “As an agency we came up with ‘carbon footprint’ to shift the blame from BP onto us as individuals.”
The idea of a personal carbon footprint is said to originate from a 2005 BP campaign that was designed by Ogilvy.
When the ‘agency boss’ in Mayhew’s sketch says they “want to work with BP to be part of the solution”, Mayhew simply laughs.
The release of the video coincided with WPP boss Mark Read saying Greenpeace was ‘right’ to protest at the Cannes Lions, but insisting that his business will continue to work with energy clients.