Students out to inspire oldies to rethink working on fossil fuel commercials – the brief is in

Students from South Africa’s advertising schools are currently coming up with ideas to inspire ad-makers in the commercials industry to stop using their talents to promote fossil fuel companies. These commercials directly contribute to the climate crisis by creating positive perceptions about fossil fuel companies, distracting from activism work and thus slowing down legislation that will stop the damage they are doing. 

In a move that signals a new cleaner era in the advertising industry, students from South Africa’s leading advertising schools are responding to a live brief from Clean Creatives — a movement of advertisers, PR professionals, and their clients cutting ties with fossil fuels.

The “Creative Cleanup 2023” brief challenges creative students registered at educational institutions in South Africa. Students from schools including AAA School of Advertising, Red and Yellow Creative School of Business, and IIE-Vega School have been tasked to create a direct marketing campaign and the audience is YOU, ad folks in marketing, communications, production and PR.

The goal of the student campaign is to shake up the creative industry – an industry that they themselves are studying to join – and ultimately ‘create a conscience’ within the industry about doing work with fossil fuel companies (think Sasol, BP, Engen, Shell, Caltex for example). This work mostly plays out in the same cliché ways, either greenwashing (think solar panels and fields of flowers with soothing voiceover) or they’re smiley, squeaky clean, happy family ads (think baby in car seat lolling away or celebrities hanging at the vibing petrol pump). These ads shape and uphold perceptions of these companies that are far from the truth, the reality is literally the opposite. These companies still invest almost all their earnings on more oil and gas. They are building new pipelines and refineries and drilling wells that are expected to be used for the next 40 years.

If the campaigns created from the “Creative Cleanup” student brief are successful, it would ultimately build toward a future where young aspiring South African ad makers won’t have to work on these fossil fuel briefs when they enter the industry as juniors.

The winning work will be showcased on and the winning student or team will be announced at an event during Cape Town Climate Week in September. Founder of IDIDTHAT and most-of-the-time-recycler, Julie Maunder says: ‘We can acknowledge that declining work while facing the current financial pressures on our industry seems wild. We can also acknowledge that the advertising industry is the primary industry responsible for shaping perceptions around the companies responsible for the greenhouse gases that are causing climate change. Both can be true. This Creative Cleanup brief is a great way for senior and emerging talent to engage about our industry’s future role in climate change. I really think it has the potential to shift our industry’s conscience and to action real change.’ 

The winning work will be judged by industry veterans: Nkanyezi Masango, Chief Creative Officer at Dentsu Creative,  Suhana Gordhan, Independent Creative Leader,  Daniel Kaplan, Executive Producer at Bioscope Films and Julie Maunder, Founder and Owner at and Clean Creatives SA’s country director, Stephen Horn.

Nkanyezi Masango, Chief Creative Officer (CCO) for DENTSU CREATIVE and Founder of Blackboard says of what he’ll be looking for as a judge, ‘I’m the exact audience that these campaigns are targeted toward and I’m looking for work that speaks to me and makes me consider, in new ways, the impact we, the creative industry, have on climate change. Considering that some of these students will shape the future of our industry, I’m genuinely excited to see the innovative and creative projects they come up with!’

‘We’ve presented the Clean Creatives campaign and the live brief at tertiary institutions, advertising and creative schools around the country and the student engagement on the climate crisis has been phenomenal, with many instantly taking the Clean Creatives pledge to not work on fossil fuel creative briefs throughout their entire careers,” said Clean Creatives SA’s country director, Stephen Horn.

Students can access the challenge brief with detailed guidelines and submit entries via the Creatives For Climate hub until August 31, 2023, at the link below: 

“Creative Cleanup 2023” student brief 

A virtual information session will take place next Wednesday 22nd August at 12 pm SA time. Interested students can register here.

For further media enquiries please contact:
Stephen Horn: Clean Creatives SA Country Director
Cell/WhatsApp: +27 (072) 621-0457‬