Activist group Glimpse is urging people to stop following influencers who are surreptitiously paid by oil companies, with a parody film that has a woman spluttering gobbets of oil as she greenwashes to her online audience.
"Unfollow a greenwasher" goes live today (3 August) and has been devised by a creative duo whose day jobs are at Anomaly London. The work is part of Inside Job, Glimpse's campaign to convince young creatives to reject environmentally damaging clients and focus their creative energy on sustainable alternatives.
The 60-second video opens with a smiling woman, Sally, greeting viewers with an ebullient "Hi everyone!" Bland incidental music plays in the background. "Welcome back to Sally Wanders the World," she proclaims, thanking her followers for the support on last week's video – "Why I left the Maldives a week early".
She goes on to explain that in today's episode, she will be "going on a very exciting countryside trip with... Shell", before she coughs up some thick oil.
"I know what you're thinking, but they're not that bad," she reassures her viewers. "Twelve percent of their spending actually goes on renewables," she adds as she brings up more black ooze. "It's actually only 5%," she manages. Her presentation descends into coughing and spluttering as she insists "they're really trying..."
She can't get the words out, as specious as they apparently are, and ends up knocking the camera over with her hand in frustration.
On-screen copy reads: "Oil companies pay influencers to make their dirty businesses look green." Our host appears from above the camera and gives viewers a final flob of oil onto the lens.
"Save the planet, unfollow a greenwasher," the endline reads. "Don't forget to like and subscribe," the host whimpers, as the Glimpse logo appears alongside the @WeGlimpse handle.
The film was directed by Carys Thomas and Thorbjorn Kragh and created by Lara Baxter and Alice Goodrich, alongside creative director Nikki Lindman. Baxter and Goodrich work at Anomaly London, but this work was created independently of their day jobs, in their spare time.
The pair said: "We were really interested in Glimpse's brief of highlighting how influencers are being paid by 'big oil' companies to help greenwash them. It was something we hadn't thought about, and we couldn't believe it was actually happening.
"Oil and gas companies are getting smarter and more cunning with their marketing – they know influencers are friendly faces that people are more likely to trust – so we were excited at the opportunity to help people wise up in a fun, playful way.
"That's where the idea of Sally came from. We wanted to create a film that would lean into classic influencer tropes, and that would shock people and get their attention. After creating the concept and writing the script we assembled a group of our pals to make it happen – it was such a fun process and we all got our hands dirty, or should we say oily."
Earlier this year, Glimpse turned its focus to students on advertising and design courses, inviting them to produce work that communicates their views on climate change to their older selves and future employers.
About 350 students submitted work, with much of it shown at an exhibition called "Note to Self" on 24 March in Shoreditch.
Last August, Glimpse activists created a campaign called "Wreck the brief" that included a pamphlet dubbed The Brief Sabotage Handbook, which was handed out to staff working at agencies known for their work with fossil fuel clients – WPP's Ogilvy and Wunderman Thompson and PR group Edelman. The booklet contained satirical tips and tricks on sabotaging a brief for oil and other high carbon clients.