Shell Have Made A Gross Ad Comparing Renewable Energy To A Woman Who Needs A “Reliable” Man
PR fails by energy companies are the best/worst kind.
The Paris climate change conference is underway, and for every environment group pushing for ambitious carbon-reduction targets, there’s an energy company throwing a staggering amount of cash at preserving the status quo. Part of that involves cranking out faux-inspirational, laughably tone-deaf marketing campaigns that crash like lead balloons on arrival; the Australian mining industry’s chronically misguided #coalisamazing campaign, which tried to reinvent coal’s public image as the groovy rock that keeps the lights on instead of the thing honest-to-God giving miners in Queensland the black lung, only managed to inspire some relentless piss-taking and not much else.
But #coalisamazing has nothing on the latest effort from Shell, the global oil conglomerate whose loss of a partnership with Lego in 2012 blew a hole in their PR strategy to present a cutesy public face while applying for Arctic offshore drilling permits.
In the lead-up to the Paris talks, Shell’s #makethefuture campaign has been spruiking the benefits of liquid natural gas as a “reliable” alternative to renewable energy (inexplicably neglecting to mention that natural gas is only expected to account for a small amount of the emissions reductions needed worldwide by 2055). As part of that effort they’ve released an ad, set in an old-timey French romance scenario, that compares renewable energy to a damsel in distress who is adrift in the world until she meets a man she can settle down with.
It is a bit weird.
According to the ad’s pretty tortured analogy, renewable energy is a flighty, lovelorn woman looking for a dependable, reliable dude to give her “constancy”. The dude in question — who turns out to be a stand-in for natural gas — quickly shows up, and in keeping with the ad’s retrograde and squirm-inducing tone, quite naturally wears a fedora and creeps on her in the street.
Eventually they get together, presumably because she’s overwhelmed by how much of a Nice Guy he is, and her addled female brain finds comfort in his dependability. If you were trying to argue that renewable energy isn’t reliable or mature enough to exist by itself, comparing it to a woman who can’t function without some creepy dude providing for her isn’t the greatest way to go about it.