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Special Project

Special Project
From the 8th Annual Shorty Impact Awards

Cannes Climate Action & Next Level Climate Summit

Finalist in Multi-Platform Campaign, Nonprofit


Clean Creatives is a non-profit fighting climate change by pressuring ad agencies and the industry itself to stop working on fossil fuel clients. These clients include companies like Shell, BP, Chevron, and Exxon, as well as other companies involved in the business of fossil fuels or representing their interests. With active fossil fuel producers responsible for 3/4 of global emissions since 1988, any negative impact on their advertising effectiveness will have an outsize impact on total global emissions.

The primary audience of Clean Creatives is unique: the people in the advertising/PR industry. The Cannes Lions Festival is the ad industry’s biggest event, drawing thousands of participants, attendees, and other visitors from people working in advertising — i.e., our target audience. Due to the nature of Cannes, attendees are disproportionately likely to be very influential in advertising, from the world’s best creatives to the c-suite, i.e. decision makers for moving the industry away from fossil fuel clients. 

With hundreds of agencies signed on, billions of potential media impressions in mainstream media and industry trades, and significant action from Clean Creatives and allies at Cannes in 2022, by now ad leaders are familiar with our mission. Our challenge is to move them “further down the funnel” while still finding novel ways to reach this discerning group. With this demographic conveniently concentrated at Cannes, our goal was to reach them in person and on the ground. And with everyone watching Cannes, any actions would be magnified to the global industry.

Strategy and Execution

Our 2022 Cannes TikTok Action House (and the actions of allied groups like Greenpeace) were very effective in opening up conversations within agencies about our mission to move the industry away from fossil fuel. This year, armed with our learnings from last year, we decided to run it back with a bigger budget and a bigger team, as well as adding a half-day of programming — the Next Level Climate Summit. 

With brands and platforms spending 6- or 7-figures for parties along the beach — likely more than the annual budget of Clean Creatives — it would have been impossible to out-scale other programming. We needed unique ways to capture the attention of the leaders of advertising and have productive conversations with them, connect with allies new and old, and do so in ways that were press-worthy.

As climate change will affect younger generations the most, our initial insight behind bringing young creatives/activists to Cannes in 2022 was that young people shouldn’t be shut out of conversations regarding their future, whether in agency CEO offices or on yachts along the French Riviera. This year, we reapplied this new model of activist strategy, with a longer lead time to plan, knowing that the true magic would happen in the collaborative environment of bringing together a bunch of people at the intersection of creator and activist. As a team, we did a wide variety of activations IRL, resulting in dozens of pieces of content in the unique voice of various creators for TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Using colorful props, we engaged with attendees along La Croisette. We had deep conversations regarding the future of fossil fuel clients and the industry with advertising leaders and top creatives we ran into, whether one-on-one after events or with our neighbors at dinner. And, we did subversive and direct actions confronting some of the people most responsible for greenwashing Big Oil and slow-walking the industry’s response to it — none more so than following Richard Edelman with signs saying “This person works with fossil fuel clients” 

Our biggest action of the week was the Next Level Climate Summit we put on with our amazing partners Creatives for Climate and Dutch Embassy for Creativity. The thought-provoking panels and talks featured leaders, creatives, and allies examining the issue of why the advertising and PR industry needs to stop working with fossil fuel clients. One of the panels featured CEO Brad Simms on the day he signed the pledge on behalf of GALE Partners, our largest agency to sign the pledge. This day provided an opportunity for people within our movement to meet and connect IRL, whether they were veteran allies or future fellow troublemakers.


This was the biggest, most ambitious project in three years of Clean Creatives. It was a long, hot week, thankfully cooled by rosé. In a year dominated by the impact of AI, Clean Creatives made sure climate change remained top of mind for the ad industry. Two years running of punching above our weight as a non-profit with headline-grabbing action. 

Most notably, our photos of the team walking alongside Richard Edelman with signs saying “This person supports fossil fuel clients” minutes after he publicly affirmed support for working on such clients will be forever enshrined as an iconic image of the movement. This story (and photos!) in publications like Adweek, Campaign, AdAge, and Semafor carried the impact of our movement to industry watchers around the globe. 

Just as important for the growth of the movement, we continued to grow our list of agencies that signed the pledge not to work with fossil fuel clients. With GALE Partners signing midweek, our biggest agency signing yet, we got additional press mentions around CEO Brad Simms’ bold action. This helped accelerate our biggest period of growth yet — since the start of pre-Cannes coverage mentioning Clean Creatives through August, our total pledge signers have grown by a whopping 21%.

More press mentions lead to more agencies signing on, leading to more individuals within the industry having that lightbulb moment that our industry should not help fossil fuel clients do their dirty work which continues to give momentum to our movement.


Video for Cannes Climate Action & Next Level Climate Summit

Entrant Company / Organization Name

Clean Creatives


Entry Credits