Complaint to Ad Standards on HSBC’s Great Barrier Reef ad
Jurisdiction: Ad standards
Side A: Ava Shearer (Individual)
Side B: HSBC (Corporation)
Whether HSBC’s campaigns protecting the Great Barrier Reef are considered greenwashing given its links to fossil fuel companies.
According to a news report, on September 16, 2021, a 17-year-old student, Ava Shearer, filed a complaint at Ad Standards, an Australian organisation that manages consumer and competitor complaints concerning the country’s self-regulatory advertising codes, against HSBC for a marketing campaign touting its support for protection of the Great Barrier Reef while funding fossil fuel operations. Ms. Shearer claims that HSBC’s ads, which claim to be investing in the reef’s future and “reef credits” to support water quality, are contradicted by its financial links to fossil fuel projects that negatively contribute to the climate crisis. Ad Standards will assess the claim and potentially initiate a case against HSBC. The Environmental Claims Code covers truthful and factual presentation, genuine benefit to the environment, and substantiation of claims.