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 (@adamtranter) February 26, 2021
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'.