Exxon’s secret assistance from the world’s best public relations firm

    Photo shows the logo of US oil and gas giant ExxonMobil at the World Gas Conference exhibition in Paris on June 2, 2015

Photo: Eric Piermont / AFP (Getty Images)

It appears that Exxon is panicking over the Biden administration’s promises to fight carbon pollution. Throughout the year, he ran ads on Facebook encouraging people to oppose climate policy. And, according to a new report, Exxon has worked in secret with one of the world’s largest public relations firms on the project.

Exxon buys more Facebook ads than any other fossil fuel company. A report released this week revealed that in 2021, Exxon has consistently been a top spendthrift on climate issues on the social platform. However, the company’s ads don’t just focus on improving their profile. As the Biden administration took action to curb oil and gas extraction from public lands, reject the Keystone XL pipeline, and adopt climate policy, the oil major ran ads to encourage viewers to oppose to these measurements.

“He uses these ads to mobilize people for Exxon’s political goals,” said Duncan Meisel, co-founder of the Clean Creatives campaign to pressure public relations companies to stop working with them. oil companies and co-author of the report.

These political advertisements are part of Exxon’s “Exxchange” platform, which the company describe as a “community bringing together energy supporters to take action on issues affecting the energy industry and daily life”. Meisel said the Exchange was launched in mid-2018 when Democrats won a majority in the House and increased its spending in 2020 once Biden became the Democratic presidential candidate.

“What that says is that this is really an explicitly political project,” Meisel said.

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Those who click on ads on Facebook are sent to the Exchange platform and invited to sign petitions. For example, like Biden Withdrawn Keystone XL Pipeline Permits and is committed to reducing carbon emissions, Exxon has advertising campaign calling on Americans to “defend energy jobs”.

And this month, as Democrats created a budget bill filled with climate policies that would raise corporate taxes, Exxon began running Exxchange ads that called on users to oppose the increase in tax. corporate tax even though it aggressively pressured legislators dilute legislation. (Exxon, other oil companies and climate deniers getting the go-ahead for these types of ads contrasts sharply with how activists and educators have been processed by the platform.) Separate research published last month by Influence card shows that 25 oil companies paid for ads that were viewed 431 million times on Facebook in 2020, with Exxon spending the most during that time.

Previously, Texas-based public relations firm Harris Media, run by Republican consultant Vincent Harris and known for working with far-right political campaigns, took the credit to create Exchange. But the Clean Creatives reported that is not the whole story. A coding error discovered by the group indicates that Edelman, the world’s largest independent public relations firm, appears to have also played a role in the management of Exxchange.com.

“A link on the preserved site includes a Microsoft SafeLinks URL containing the email address with an edelman.com domain. This SafeLinks URL could only be generated by an Edelman employee and appears to have been integrated into the site by mistake. This shows that Edelman had direct control over the site and its content, at least until May 2021, ”the report said.

Earther contacted the company with questions about their involvement with Exchange and will update this post if we have any news. Edelman has previously worked with polluting entities such as the pipeline developer TransCanada, the American Petroleum Institute, and Shell. In fact, Clean Creatives found it had more fossil fuel contracts than any other major advertising agency.

A graph showing Facebook ad spend by Exxon showing almost zero spending at the start of 2020, then suddenly poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into ads from the summer until the election ended.

Picture: Influence card

But that’s far from the image the public relations giant tried to make for itself. This week alone, Edelman went to great lengths to run a very different campaign, a collaboration between Tazo Tea and American Forests focused on hiring residents of low-income communities of color to plant trees in their neighborhoods, helping to increase tree equity. The countryside itself boasts of singer SZA as an ambassador.

Why would Edelman want to stand out from the Exxchange campaign and work with other polluters? Well, the report sheds light on that too: Edelman recently published a report finding that 60% of employees would leave a company that performs “fundamentally immoral” work, and polls show that young workers increasingly view fossil fuel companies as immoral because of their massive contributions to the climate crisis. Perhaps the PR firm believes that hiding its work with Exxon will preserve its image in the public eye and its ability to retain qualified staff.

“Edelman’s business card is that they say they’re in the business of creating trust,” Meisel said. “But what’s really striking about this work for Exxon and the work for the American Petroleum Institute or other polluters is that it’s really designed to undermine confidence in climate science and climate solutions, c so is a blatant conflict with… what they say their mission is.

“Clearly this is not the job they are most proud of. Their work with fossil fuel companies is … in direct conflict with their stated values.

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