Shell exhibition at Science Museum downplays climate urgency but targets ‘special publics’

12 Apr 2010 admin

Shell sponsor high-profile exhibition on climate change at Science Museum. Good thing?

Except that the exhibition backs down from the need for urgent action to deal with climate change. Chris Rapley, the museum’s director, went as far as stating that “The Science Museum will not state a position on whether or not climate change is real, driven by humans or threatening.” A Reuters article covering the story was titled “London Science Museum goes climate science neutral”.

Shell was previously kicked out of sponsoring the BBC Wildlife Photography Exhibition at the Natural History Museum next door in Kensington following a concerted campaign by Art not Oil and Rising Tide.

Shell is buying itself goodwill from its key audiences (“special publics”) in London by supporting a supposedly progressive exhibition in a cultural institution, while benefitting from the continued governmental inaction on climate change. The company identifies its special publics largely as “academics, government, media, NGOs and business leaders” and compares its “favourability” amongst these groups with those of its competitors – realising that these audiences are providing the company with a social license to operate. The graph above is based on Shell’s Reputation Tracker, a survey of opinion conducted by Ipsos Mori:

The company’s “Special Publics Engagement Programme” is run by PR company Fishburn Hedges. BP has engaged Landor and Ogilvy & Mather to run its sponsorship of the London 2012 Olympics.

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