Following a soft launch in marketing industry publication, MarkLives.com in November 2021, the South African chapter of the US-based Clean Creatives campaign held its public launch in Cape Town at the Alliance Française on the 12th of July.
A project of Fossil Free South Africa, the campaign sets out to unite advertising and PR agencies, their employees, and industry clients, to address the SA ad and PR industry’s work with the fossil fuels that are the principal cause of climate breakdown.
The event attracted interest from all sectors: from advertising agencies, filmmakers and illustrators to academics, educators and journalists.
Following a welcome from David Le Page, Fossil Free SA Co-Founder, and an introduction to the Clean Creatives Campaign by Country Director, Stephen Horn, a film by Purpose Disruptors called The Good Life 2030 was screened, which inspires and challenges creatives to think about how the advertising industry can be reimagined in light of the climate and ecological crises.
Sam Chevallier from ReWild Africa, an impact-focused production company, shared examples of how narrative storytelling can shift behaviour and expanded on the value of working with clients whose values you share.
The evening then took on an open floor format where attendees were invited to form a circle and discuss the pledge, and the role creatives can play in addressing the climate emergency. Some key themes which emerged was the need to undermine the fossil fuel industry’s social licence to operate – removing the “prestige factor” of working on such accounts – as well as the financial implications of avoiding fossil fuel industry work.
Lené van Heerden, in attendance with colleagues from We Are Batch, an all-female creative production studio, shared her reasons for signing the pledge: “All the clients that we take on have to align with our values… I don’t think [agencies] are ignorant about climate issues, I just think nobody knows where to start. And for us, the Clean Creatives pledge was our start.”
Dr Emily Tyler of thinktank Meridian Economics shared valuable insights into the economic reasons for businesses to embrace the inevitable transition to a low-carbon economy. She highlighted the danger of South Africa’s carbon intensive economy being left behind and punished by carbon border taxes as the rest of the world seeks to decarbonise, and explained that climate tipping points could spur change far more quickly than many businesses might anticipate.
The evening concluded with a decision to host meetings for the Clean Creatives South Africa community every few months. The next in-person event will take place on Wednesday 5th of October during the Loeries Creative Week in Cape Town. More information will be shared via the Clean Creatives social media channels on Twitter and Instagram.
Globally, the Clean Creatives pledge now counts more than 400 agencies and 900 individual creatives who have committed to “cleaning up creativity” by refusing work from the fossil fuel industry. In South Africa there are over 50 signatories, including 21 agencies.
To sign the Clean Creatives pledge, click here.