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British Gas cause outcry with controversial ‘bike it everywhere’ advert

People say campaign is 'irresponsible' by suggesting changing your energy tariff will solve climate crisis...

Energy company British Gas could face 'an almighty backlash' from the cycling world after releasing a series of controversial adverts to promote its new ‘green’ tariffs.

Twitter users branded the suggestion that changing your electricity tariff could solve the problems the world faces as 'totally irresponsible'.

One advert from the energy company shows a man cycling with a mattress strapped to his back, with the words “Bike it, EVERYWHERE - or all our electricity tariffs are zero carbon to help you do your bit.”

A similar advert shows a reusable bag alongside the captions “Use that bag for life, your ENTIRE life - or join our 1.6 million customers enjoying 100 per cent renewable electricity.”

Both videos are part of a campaign telling potential customers 'you can go green without the extreme,' produced by international digital brand agency Nucleus.

Adam Tranter, marketing professional and founder of #BikeIsBest, was one of the first to draw attention to the 'tone deaf' campaign.

Speaking to Euronews, he said: “It’s just tone deaf...Lots of things need to change in our society in order to literally save the planet, and to imply that’s not the case for commercial gain, is probably one of the worst things you can do.

"It is really misleading.”

He said that the adverts were dangerously simplistic and downplayed the world's climate problems 

He added: "I don’t think there are many people out there who think that by purely switching to a different energy tariff that they can solve the world’s climate problems.”

On social media, users vented their fury at the 'disgraceful' adverts.

Ken Newton, wrote: "The sheer size of the changes that we need to make - individually and as a society - to successfully combat climate breakdown is widely underestimated.

"Spreading the idea that just changing electricity tariff solves the problem is totally irresponsible."

Alan Denyer, agreed, adding: "On so many levels, this ad *really* sucks. If I were [British Gas] I’d be pulling ASAP and having a little reality check moment with the marketing department."

Another, James Smith, summing up the mood of cyclists on Twitter, said:  "BritishGas you are making a monumental mistake with this and I fear an almighty backlash from the cycling community."

The response to the adverts so far appears to have been overwhelmingly negative, with some accusing the UK's biggest energy supplier, of greenwashing.

According to the Advertising Standards Authorities (ASA) who regulate commercial content in the UK, multiple formal complaints have been launched about the campaign.

According to British Gas, the campaign has received a 'positive reaction' overall, and is intended to reach customers who are increasingly eco-conscious and looking for ways to live a greener life.

A spokesperson said: “This is intended to raise awareness of sustainability choices and how through green energy tariffs, British Gas can support customers to take action towards more sustainable living.

"It [the campaign] highlights simple ways people can do more.”

The use of a man cycling a mattress in the campaign, according to the representative for British Gas, is not meant to be a realistic representation.

The tote bag example is also apparently intended to be 'another light-hearted reference'.

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Captain Badger | 3 years ago

This reminds me of the ads in the late 80s that explicitly claimed that when you use our washing liquid you are doing"your bit" for the planet.
Thought we'd got past that.
BG is selling a product that's only purpose is to be burned, producing green house gases. But if you save money whilst doing it that's ok

NPlus1Bikelights | 3 years ago
1 like

The amount of energy required to get BG to provide basic customer service could power a dehumidifier for days.

brooksby | 3 years ago

On what medium have they distributed these adverts? I hadn't seen them.

(And, what is the significance of the mattress?)

nafaiutb | 3 years ago

Advertisers in lack of ethics shock! Bill Hicks had the idea:

0-0 | 3 years ago

"British Gas cause outcry", then "British Gas could face 'an almighty backlash'".



arowland replied to 0-0 | 3 years ago
0-0 wrote:

"British Gas cause outcry", then "British Gas could face 'an almighty backlash'".

And it should be 'causes'. Singular, not plural.

I can't figure out whether people's grammar is going downhill these days or their ability to count to one. Or both.

Pyro Tim | 3 years ago

They are buying green credits and still burning fossil fuels. There is nothing green about them. They are smoke and mirrors so hardly surprising

Rich_cb replied to Pyro Tim | 3 years ago

Serious question.

Are there any electricity suppliers that actually supply 100% renewable energy without using REGOs?

StuInNorway replied to Rich_cb | 3 years ago

In the UK, NO, because they canot trace each electron back to a power station. Claiming to only supply renewable power in the UK is like trying to guarantee the deep end of the swimming pool, where they don't allow kids, is free of pee.
Norwegian suppliers can clam it, but don't bother, everyone knows it is. 93.4% Hydro, 4.1% wind, 2.5% thermal. (2019 figures) Also a percentage of that is exported.

Rich_cb replied to StuInNorway | 3 years ago

That is true but I think it's reasonable to declare your energy 100% renewable if you buy an equivalent amount of renewable energy to match your customers use.

Gkam84 replied to Rich_cb | 3 years ago
1 like
Rich_cb wrote:

Serious question. Are there any electricity suppliers that actually supply 100% renewable energy without using REGOs?

I believe that Shell is using 100% renewable. They only use wind, solar and biomass. It is certified by REGO, but I don't think they are buying "green" credits for it.

Rich_cb replied to Gkam84 | 3 years ago

I think the problem is that REGOs can be bought without actually buying the renewable energy itself.

So you can buy energy from coal power stations, spend a few pennies on REGOs and, as if by magic, you can declare your energy 100% renewable.*

*This loophole may have been closed by now, it's not something I follow too closely

ktache replied to Rich_cb | 3 years ago

The loophole is still there, according to yesterdays Jeremy Vine Radio 2 show.

NPlus1Bikelights replied to Rich_cb | 3 years ago

I  (UK) was with a Spanish one that did, they just went bust... A lot of UK big suppliers are claiming it, EON for one.

Milkfloat | 3 years ago

I am more concerned over the British Gas policy to fire and rehire all their Engineers on worse employment conditions and wages.

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