Sally smiles at the camera. But when she starts to explain her upcoming travel plans (sponsored by Shell), oil starts to spurt out of her mouth, like a mini Deepwater Horizon rig in soft focus.
To the point, sure. But hardly a nasty video. Yet this film has been just rejected by LinkedIn’s ads team for being "offensive to good taste". This means we can’t promote it on the platform and the young audience we’re targeting can’t see it.
At the same time, oil companies like Shell and BP are spending millions on social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Meta and X (formerly known as Twitter). All those cute posts about wind turbines and battery chargers are hiding the ugly truth that they’re spending about 5% of their capital investments on renewables – and the rest on the black stuff.
This is greenwash of the highest order: deliberately promoting a tiny green part of the business to hide the vast, vast majority of your oil and gas operations.
And as a new investigation supported by Glimpse shows, oil and gas companies are now paying influencers to improve their reputation with millennials and Gen Z.
Last year Shell advertised for a new staff member to manage its TikTok campaigns, while oil and gas giant ExxonMobil has been the highest advertising spender on Facebook and Instagram in the past five years, shelling out $23.1m since June 2018.
In a summer of 55°C days, wildfires devouring Greek islands and floods battering China, we need to start asking ourselves what’s truly offensive in the public domain. A little creative humour on LinkedIn, using fake oil and a sly wink? Or an orchestrated attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of the public, all to squeeze a few more billion in profit while they still can?
"Sally wanders the world" was created by Lara Baxter and Alice Goodrich, two talented young creatives from the Glimpse network who put hours of work and love into this film. They’re also the generation who will be living through the worst impacts of the climate crisis too.
So if this story offends you in any way, we fully agree. Do whatever you can to share it because it’s Shell, not Sally, who needs to be kicked out of the public square for all our sakes.
James Turner is the founder of the creative collective Glimpse.
Watch the film by Baxter and Goodrich in full below:
A LinkedIn spokesperson said: "We welcome professional conversations and creative content on LinkedIn, and deeply care about the experience our members have. We have clear advertising policies to safeguard this experience, and ads that don’t meet these guidelines, such as those that are “offensive to good taste”, will not be approved to run on our platform. This includes those that depict vomiting, as in this case. We always share feedback, and companies are welcome to edit ads and resubmit them if they wish.”