Edelman Distances Itself from the Oil Industry

Subsidiary Blue Advertising will, however, continue working with the American Petroleum Institute.

Edelman_Logo_ColorA story first broken by The Holmes Report over the weekend has attracted the notice of larger media organizations: today a piece in The Guardian repeats the news that Edelman will not continue working with the American Petroleum Institute when its current contract expires.

More specifically, Blue Advertising, the Edelman subsidiary responsible for creating campaigns to support the API’s policy goals, will divest itself from the larger organization.

The Guardian notes that the relationship between the two parties provided as much as 10 percent of Edelman’s global revenue in years past and that, while API has also worked with FleishmanHillard, Edelman has long been its primary provider of PR and advertising services.

A source told Holmes that the change comes due to newfound scrutiny on behalf of major corporate clients who insist that their agencies refrain from working with fossil fuel providers, but it does follow a string of bad press for Edelman.

Richard Edelman himself contacted the VICE property Motherboard to explain why working with API did not violate his promise to promote sustainability; last November, Greenpeace leaked strategic documents sent from Edelman employees to client TransCanada which suggested that some critics of the latter company’s plan to build a natural gas pipeline across Canada could have questionable “motivations”; most recently, The Center for Public Integrity focused on Edelman’s relationship with the API in its report “The Misinformation Industry,” which effectively called PR a new version of lobbying.

The most interesting part of the Holmes story is the fact that Blue Advertising will continue, under its current name and its current leadership, to do exactly what it has been doing for the past ten years moving forward. Given the firm’s relationship with this particular client and its history of not responding to related criticism, the motivation behind the decision to distance itself from API would appear to be more financial than reputational in nature.

An Edelman spokesman declined to comment.