McCann repitching for fossil fuel client despite ethical uproar


Global advertising agency McCann is preparing to repitch for its ongoing contract with Saudi oil giant Aramco, amid ethical uproar fuelled by the environmental impact of the fossil fuel industry.

A report from DeSmog has revealed that, while McCann’s current Aramco contracts are set to expire early next year, the company will be repitching for the work – believed to be worth several million pounds a year – despite the oil firm’s record of pollution and greenwashing.

McCann’s decision to repitch comes shortly after Havas came under fire for winning Shell’s media account, a move which caused a myriad of reputational difficulties for both the agency and B Corp.

An increasing scrutiny on the industry’s role in supporting fossil fuel companies underscores the ethical difficulties faced by agencies, as they attempt to balance commercial interests with environmental responsibilities.

As part of the Interpublic Group of Companies (IPG), McCann also upholds its new environmental sustainability policy which was launched last month and aims to “improve [our] impact on the environment”.

However, this policy – which includes “proactively reviewing the climate impacts of prospective clients that operate in the oil, energy and utility sectors before accepting new work” – will not apply to existing clients, such as Aramco.

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One IPG employee told DeSmog that there was “growing unease” within the company about its work for Aramco, with another stating that  you could drive an oil tanker through some of the loopholes in [the pledge]”.

According to campaign group Clean Creatives, IPG has held at least 25 global contracts with fossil fuel firms since the start of 2022, the third most in the industry. These include Shell, Equinor, and ExxonMobil.

Aramco has pledged to raise its production of crude oil by 2027, against the advice of the International Energy Agency which says the move would be incompatible with current global warming targets.

“The agency that wins Saudi Aramco’s business will be a key part of the world’s largest polluter’s plans to wreck the planet,” said Clean Creatives executive director Duncan Meisel.

“Saudi Aramco’s climate plans are effectively non-existent, and the reputational risks of associating with them are significant. Pitching for the business of the world’s biggest polluter will be throwing your agency’s climate credentials out the window and your employees under the bus.”

Marketing Beat has contacted McCann for comment


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