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‘Secret Agents of Change’ to Take Over Cannes Lions to Root Out Greenwashing

Creatives for Climate’s ‘secret agents of change’ will be prowling the festival calling on individuals, agencies and brands to tackle greenwashing at the source.

At this year’s Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity (19th-23rd June), NGO Creatives for Climate will launch a new tool aimed at building a collective of change agents united in its mission to tackle greenwashing at the source.

Creatives for Climate ‘secret agents’ will be roaming the festival with the organization’s Greenwash Watch toolkit — interrupting the rosé-fueled conversations and business-as-usual meetings to firmly center the conversation on climate action within advertising.

The tool in question, the Greenwash Swatch, is based on a framework created by think tank Planet Tracker that identifies an increasingly complex greenwashing landscape — including new trends such as greencrowding, greenrinsing, and greenshifting.

Image credit: Creatives for Climate

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Formatted into a handy paint swatch booklet that fits into handbags and pockets, the toolkit is designed to be a reference for attendees to identify examples of greenwashing at any moment — providing a simple and provocative way to fuel conversations about brand accountability. For the second year in a row, the #greenwashwatch will hijack conversation at Cannes Lions and online, and create a counternarrative from ordinary people back to brands — subverting power and driving conversation far and wide.

“Creativity for good means nothing if we do not rise as an industry to tackle creativity for bad,” says Creatives for Climate Initiator and Chairwoman Lucy von Sturmer. “Standing against greenwashing is standing against tactics of delay and increasingly illegal brand behavior. Unfortunately, as more agencies and brands jump on the ‘green wagon,’ we expect to see a tonne of criminal behavior on the Croisette this year.”

During the festival, to gather momentum and recruit more agents to join, Creatives for Climate is partnering with Clean Creatives to launch the Change Agent Happy Hour — Tuesday 20th June from 19:00-20:30 — where it will be issuing an additional 100 toolkits to attendees to inspire collective action within their professional organizations and across their broader networks.

Creatives for Climate has also partnered with the Clean Creatives Climate Summit at the Embassy of Dutch Creativity and will be hosting a panel titled "Tackling the climate crisis is tackling the talent crisis" on Tuesday 20th June. This panel will feature a broad range of actors from across the industry - brand representatives, agency leaders as well as grassroots activists and entrepreneurs on the ground, exploring questions such as:

  • Can solving the climate crisis solve the talent crisis?

  • Can upskilling for climate build better agencies and brands?

This year's action at Cannes builds on the release of the Creatives for Climate’s landmark Greenwash Watch Course, launched at Cannes in 2022. The training is a cross-industry effort created in collaboration with industry experts such as professor Gill Wilson and Patagonia Head of Studio Alex Weller to rapidly scale the industry’s ability to challenge briefs, identify greenwashing and deliver projects with real impact.

The Greenwash Watch agents will reward those that use the Greenwash Swatch tool online during Cannes Lions week with free access to the Greenwash Watch training program. The aim is to bridge the gap between advertising and action — recruiting attendees and their businesses to become greenwashing ‘secret agents of change.’