Tue. Jan 18th, 2022


This is an audio transcript of the FT News Information Session podcast episode: Environmental activists target top PR firms

Marc Filippino
Good morning from the Financial Times. Today is Thursday, January 13th, and this is your FT News Briefing.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been asked to resign. The commodity boom now includes nickel. And plant-based food maker Beyond Meat is on short-selling menu. In addition, climate activists have started targeting the world’s largest PR firms.

Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson
What the activists think these firms are doing is washing the images of those rather brown, dirty firms green.

Marc Filippino
We will discuss the latest tactics. I’m Marc Filippino, and here’s the news you need to start your day.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

Boris Johnson has just had his hardest day since becoming prime minister. He was attacked for attending a Downing Street party in 2020, despite lock-in rules. And yesterday he had calls to resign. He tried to buy time with an excuse.

Boris Johnson
I know the anger with me and with the government I lead when they think that in Downing Street itself the rules are not being followed properly.

Marc Filippino
The FT’s George Parker talks about the dark future for the British prime minister.

George Parker
Boris Johnson apologized, but he launched an independent investigation into these parties, led by a senior government official named Sue Gray. Sue Gray is likely to report back by the end of next week, and she’s basically going to bring out all the facts in the public domain. And at that point, I think politicians, especially Tory MPs, would have to take a stand on whether Boris Johnson’s violation of these rules was so heinous that it deserved his resignation. I suspect what will happen is that Sue Gray will set out the facts and deliver quite profound criticism of the culture at 10 Downing Street, including the culture of people drinking while at work. But it will not necessarily be a kind of death blow politically for Boris Johnson, and my expectation is that he will erase some of the number 10 staff responsible for some of these parties, in other words, blame his officials and continue to falter.

Marc Filippino
So just out of curiosity, George, is there concern that Johnson admits he violated Covid rules would encourage people to say, you know, if the Prime Minister is not going to follow Covid protocols, why should I?

George Parker
Yes, I think that’s the real problem. I think the only thing, the good thing about it from the government’s point of view is that we in England are coming to the end, we hope, of the Omicron wave. It is very likely, I think, that when the current restrictions legally expire on the 26th of January, it will not be renewed. So it will be a phase when we start living in the new era of working with Covid rather than relying on constraints. But I think the more damaging thing for Boris Johnson is that people can very well remember what they did in 2020, when the first restrictions were in place, when we had some very heartbreaking stories of people, of MPs and their constituents being strictly adhered to the rules, which see loved ones die through a glass pane in hospitals because they may not be in the same room as them. People who can not attend weddings or funerals, I mean, some very heartbreaking stories. And the idea that Boris Johnson basically held liquor parties with, you know, in this case, 30 or 40 staff members who showed up at the event is quite sickening to quite a few people.

Marc Filippino
George Parker is the FT’s political editor.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

Commodities are currently flourishing. Nickel rose to a 10-year high of nearly $ 23,000 per tonne. The demand for the metal has increased as supplies have decreased and a large part of this is that car manufacturers are increasing their production of electric vehicles. Nickel is used in the most powerful EV batteries, and the demand for EVs is increasing. In the UK this past December, electric vehicles accounted for a quarter of new car sales. Copper also rose yesterday. The world’s most important industrial metal traded above $ 10,000 per tonne for the first time since October. The rise was caused by China, which said it would support its economy with more stimulus. Meanwhile, oil reached $ 85 a barrel.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

Climate change activists have a new strategy. Now, they not only target companies that pollute, they also target the people who create their eco-friendly messages.

Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson
They followed Edelman, the world’s largest PR firm. They followed WPP, the giant London-based advertising management company and communications group.

Marc Filippino
This is our American business editor, Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson.

Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson
And they went after Dentsu, which is Japan’s largest advertising company. And these are the companies that represent the world’s largest fossil fuel companies such as ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, Chevron and the rest. And what the activists think these firms are doing is washing the images of those rather brown, dirty firms green by emphasizing the cleaner, more renewable, more sustainable, happy, shiny things they do while polluting what they continue to do. by creating their traditional fossil, is kept to a minimum. fuel activities.

Marc Filippino
So Edge, I want to play for you an ad that WPP produced for ExxonMobil to show what activists are unhappy about.

[ADVERTISEMENT PLAYS]
ExxonMobil grows algae for biofuels that could one day propel aircraft and halve their greenhouse gas emissions. Algae, its potential just keeps growing.

Marc Filippino
It sounds really wholesome now. What would activists say is the problem here?

Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson
That does sound healthy, and I think there’s no doubt that all of these traditional energy companies are investing a lot of unconventional stuff that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions if it happened on a scale. The problem is, in the eyes of activists, that the PR firms and the advertising agencies are putting out this kind of advertising to make that investment look bigger than it is and to implant the idea in the public imagination that nothing needs much to change, because these companies change on their own and become more sustainable, become more responsible, where, in fact, they spend a lot more money on their traditional high-emission activities at the same time.

Marc Filippino
So, what tactics are activists using in this campaign against the advertising industry?

Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson
So these are people who have worked in the climate movement for many years, many of them, and they grew up protesting outside oil companies’ headquarters and outside Congress. And they realized how slow it is to get change like that. But what they are doing by targeting the PR and advertising industries is using that industry’s tactics against them. They use social media campaigns, they use open letters that they send to the press to call out the companies that review the oil and gas industry and try to name and shame those companies. And their thesis is if you can persuade industries manned by pretty young, creative, idealistic types who are fairly attuned to the messages of the climate movement, then you can manage to change those oil and gas companies faster by starving them , of the expertise they need to put out the next happy, shiny, clean and green ad.

Marc Filippino
What do PR companies say in response? How do they defend their work?

Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson
A company like Edelman, which has unveiled a new set of principles in response to this pressure from activists in recent days, says we need to be in the room with these types of customers because they are where the emissions are. We have to work with companies like this that are dirty now but are trying to get cleaner and we can help them get cleaner. We can help them tell the story of this transition to a cleaner, greener version of what they are going to do over the next 50 years. It was not with activists. His reaction is typical, well, you’ve been in the room for a long time and not enough has changed. So that’s where the tension is and that’s what drives this collision right now.

Marc Filippino
Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson is the FT’s American business editor. Thanks, Edge.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

Before we go, Beyond Meat has become a juicy menu item for short sellers. Amid weaker sales and growing skepticism about plant-based meat products, investors have begun betting against the company, making them money when the stock falls. The trouble for Beyond Meat began last fall when the company issued a revenue warning, and then reported lower-than-expected earnings. Beyond Meat has been scorching ever since. As of Monday, clumsy bets accounted for 42 percent of Beyond Meat’s freely traded shares. It is now one of the companies with the most short circuits in the US stock market.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

You can read more about all these stories at FT.com. This was your daily FT News Briefing. Make sure you check back tomorrow for the latest business news.

This transcript was generated automatically. If there is an error, please send the details for a correction to: tikfout@ft.com. We will do our best to make the amendment as soon as possible.



Source link

By admin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *