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Exclusive Analysis: Chevron Motors has outperformed its major oil competition with sustainability awards in US TV commercials


When it comes to television commercials over the past year, Chevron Corp. dwarfed its Big Oil competitors in both the number of ads served and the number of times it was broadcast. And these ads have painted a far more sustainable self-portrait than the competition by promoting emissions reduction awards for messages about their core fossil fuel business.

According to an analysis by advertising analyst firm AdImpact, which was exclusively shared with Morning Consult, Chevron, BP PLC, Exxon Mobil Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell PLC between January 1st, 2021.

During that time, companies’ performances fluctuated dramatically: Exxon went without ads for 10 months, while Chevron paid nearly 4,500 broadcasts in July alone.

For nearly every month recorded, Chevron dominated the television advertising landscape, running nearly two dozen advertising campaigns a total of 29,591 times. August and September 2020 were the only exceptions where Exxon had larger television exposure than its domestic competitor.

Both BP and Shell – headquartered in London and The Hague, The Netherlands, respectively – recently increased their television advertising after nearly a year of non-airing, with both picking up pace in May this year. In contrast, Exxon was a force on TVs in the summer of 2020, but has been silent for the past year, according to analysis.

Only television advertisements were examined in the analysis, with the exception of online, print, radio or alternative forms of advertising.

The content of the ads has changed too, with both Shell and Exxon focusing their few ads on the industry’s oil and gas backbone, and Chevron spicing up its comparatively large amount with words indicating sustainability efforts.

While both Sleeve and BP their US competitors have publicly announced that they will achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, Chevron and Exxon, have been slower and more humble in setting such specific goals (although Exxon supposedly brooding take zero by 2050).

The analysis looked specifically at how many ads contained one or more of the following words: sustainable, renewable, environment, clean, carbon, emissions, future, green, solar or wind.

With this figure, Chevron has once again left the others in the dust and used sustainability-oriented language in 80 percent of its total broadcasts and in 14 of its 22 advertisements. the Ad that ran the most (5,336 total shows) dominated August through October 2020, featuring a teenage girl catching butterflies before highlighting the company’s $ 1 billion in carbon capture projects; That’s a fraction of the company’s total size (with assets valued at $ 239.8 billion) Annual report 2020).

Chevron did not respond to a request for comment on its advertising strategy.

Meanwhile, BP has included sustainability-focused language in only 3 percent of its total broadcasts or two ads in total, both of which relate to the concept of. focused Net zero emissions broader and not related to specific renewable energies or carbon elimination efforts.

BP wouldn’t directly comment on its advertising trends, however according to the company’s website, it has discontinued campaigns that focus on its company’s reputation while continuing to promote its products, services and partnerships with the goal of making them “increasingly low-carbon”. BP plans to use these resources instead to promote “well-designed climate policies”.

Genevieve Guenther, founder and director of the End Climate Silence volunteer organization, is skeptical. Shows up in particular a BP ad, which ran eleven times last June, she said the statements contained therein – about the need to convert the energy system to net zero while the world is still supplying energy, “wanted and needs” – “are not very carefully claiming that BP it is”. actually work particularly towards a net zero emissions future. “

“At some point the oil and gas companies definitely started to show scientific uncertainty in order to present themselves as a partner in the changeover to clean energy,” said Günther about the sustainability-oriented advertisements in the broader sense. “After the special report about 1.5 degrees in 2018, it certainly went well.”

A Series of studies in recent years by Harvard Professor Naomi Oreskes and Research Fellow Geoffrey Supran, charted the industry’s long history of using public relations campaigns to seed doubts about the science of climate change, and particularly the role of fossil fuels in climate change. The research focused specifically on the role of Exxon, which Supran said began by investigating “traditional climate science denial” but has evolved to embrace more subtle forms of messaging.

“ExxonMobil has misled the public about climate change by telling the public one thing and then behind closed doors saying and doing the opposite,” he said in a last interview with the Harvard Gazette, adding that “tactics have shifted from overt, blatant climate denial to more subtle forms of lobbying and propaganda,” with a consistent ultimate goal: “stopping action against climate change.”

Neither Shell nor Exxon have used any of the sustainability-oriented phrases in the few ads they have shown over the past year.

While Shell didn’t comment on the timing or strategy of its advertising, a company spokesperson said that “raising consumer awareness of the lower-carbon alternatives we offer, such as cleaner electricity, biofuels and hydrogen, is a standard part of our external operations” We are increasing continue to invest to provide the product mix needed for the energy transition. ”Exxon did not respond to a request for comment.


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