EDITORIAL: Shell might find a better way to spend its dollars 200m

Shell’s proposed dollars 200 million global campaign (Campaign, last week)to repair its damaged corporate image raises the question of whether advertising is sometimes expected to achieve results that are beyond its powers.

Shell’s proposed dollars 200 million global campaign (Campaign,

last week)to repair its damaged corporate image raises the question of

whether advertising is sometimes expected to achieve results that are

beyond its powers.



Companies that extract oil from the bowels of the planet to enable its

inhabitants to drive the machines that pollute it find it hard to make

friends. This is particularly true of Shell, whose activities have

provoked criticism of its commitment to the environment and human

rights.



In trying to address this, Shell is hampered by having two different

images. One is built around the brand name familiar to millions of

motorists who associate it with well-kept station forecourts,

well-stocked shops and innovative marketing.



The other is of an environmental rapist whose global activities are

perceived as inherently evil. The driver filling his tank is not greatly

fussed about Shell’s green credentials. Many of the sophisticated

opinion formers who do care have an antipathy towards advertising

messages which are thus unlikely to influence their entrenched

views.



That’s not to say such a campaign shouldn’t run. But it has to reflect

Shell’s corporate culture. The campaign may turn out to be no more than

an expensive sticking plaster up an open wound.



Of course, as more agencies claim ’media neutrality’, it would be

interesting to know how many would advise Shell to ditch the whole idea

in favour of a whopping donation to Amnesty International.



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