Over the past couple of days, billboards in several European cities have been taken over by climate activists to protest against airline advertising practices. The organizations take aim at what they deem to be misleading commercials and so-called ‘greenwashing’ in attempts to trick customers into believing their flying has less of an environmental impact than it actually does.

You’d be forgiven for walking past the billboards and thinking they were regular airline advertisements. However, if you look closer, you will see that while some airplanes and the landscape may match what an airline communications firm might use to entice you to book your next ticket – potentially even “guilt-free,” as certain UK politicians would describe it, the words themselves do not.

Calling on advertising firms to stop working for “high-carbon clients”

One of the activist groups is known as Subvertisers International, and they call themselves an “international collective challenging advertising’s effects on society and imagining futures beyond consumerism.” The other is Brandalism, whose spokesperson Tona Merriman told The Guardian,

“The allure and glamour of high-carbon lifestyles such as frequent flying has been purposefully crafted by the advertising industry and shows no signs of relenting – despite one of the hottest summers on record.Advertising agencies such as Ogilvy, VCCP, Dentsu, DDB Munchen need to consider their role in driving up emissions for airlines they work for such as British Airways, easyJet, KLM and Lufthansa. We call on employees in those firms to refuse work for high carbon clients.”

In this campaign, they targeted several airlines, including KLM, Ryanair (or, Ruinair, as the ads referred to the carrier), Air France, Lufthansa, British Airways, easyJet, SAS, ITA Airways, Etihad, as well as industry body IATA and airports including Liege and Bristol.

In a well-coordinated effort, posters went up across the UK in London, Bristol, Manchester, Sheffield, and Brighton, but also across Europe in Paris, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Brussels, Lisbon, and Rome. All but one of the locations were reportedly used without permission.

The Dutch flag carrier is currently being sued for misleading advertising. Just last month, the Austrian Advertising Council ruled that Austrian Airlines had misled customers with its campaign offering ‘carbon-neutral’ flights from Vienna to Venice for the Biennale art fair.

Will we see fast fashion and agriculture next?

One question one might pose to the activists is why they are specifically targeting aviation and not the fast fashion industry or animal agriculture, two industries that are far worse polluters than air travel and people have an everyday relationship with.

Taking aim at fossil fuels (although also a necessary step towards emission reduction) and what is, in essence, a privileged habit of air travel might go over easier and gain more righteous approval than discussing people’s shopping for cheap clothing or dietary choices (and company commercials thereof). But one cannot help but think that it is the easier (albeit potentially more impactful) target of choice – just as for politicians and lawmakers.

Source: The Guardian

Source: simpleflying.com

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