Not So Much Truth in Advertising

In 2007, Britain's Advertising Standards Authority censured Shell for misleading advertising -- once for ads calling tar sands development "sustainable," and once for ads showing carbon dioxide emissions stimulating flower growth. Shell's new ads, designed by JWT, are also controversial. One ad reads, "We need to get at some of the 'difficult oil' trapped in sand, rock and in the deepest seas," using "breakthrough technology." Another new ad says Shell is "investigating innovative new engine fuels." Greenpeace says the ads are designed to "hide the fact" that Shell "is actually going backward," by heavily investing in Canada's tar sands. Tar sands are the dirtiest source of oil, resulting in about three times the greenhouse gas emissions of traditional oil fields and contaminating large volumes of water. Shell's ad agency, JWT, claims that the Advertising Standards Authority doesn't understand the energy business. In Japan, the Advertising Review Organization ruled that an ad calling nuclear power "a clean way to generate electricity" is misleading. The panel told the power association to either come up with a different slogan or add mention of safety issues related to nuclear reactors.