Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg has landed in hot water over her day as the editor-in-chief of Dagens Nyheter, Sweden's largest morning newspaper.
The Sunday edition, ostensibly edited by the 17-year-old, included a large advertisement from the car giant BMW, which clearly used Thunberg's climate message for commercial purposes, flirting with her imagery.
“The world's best climate brand for the climate,” the full-page ad said, in a transparent hint at Greta Thunberg's “School strike for the climate sign”.
BMW today have an add in the DN newspaper claiming to be the worlds best car manufacturer seen from a climate standpoint 🤯😂😂😂 https://t.co/ddgccqMoEW— Anders S ☀️💨💧+🔋=🌍 (@AndersSoderqvis) December 6, 2020
The ad sparked strong reactions, as many thought it was incompatible with the environmental cause championed by Thunberg.
Ulrika Good, a lecturer on marketing and communication and blogger argued that the car manufacturer risks alienating itself both with people who sympathise with Greta Thunberg and those who don't.
“To put it bluntly: those who do not like Greta don't want to drive around in a 'Greta car'. And those who like Greta do not want to see her attributes in an advertisement for prestige cars with large engines,” Good told the Expressen daily.
“This year, BMW paid good money to lobby me and other MEPs to make EU green car rules a little looser. Now they pay good money to present themselves as green in Dagens Nyheter,” Green party MEP Jakop Dalunde tweeted.
Härom året betalade BMW dyra pengar för lobba på mig och andra europaparlamentariker för att EU:s miljöbilsregler skulle bli lite slappare. Nu betalar de dyra pengar för att framställa sig som gröna i DN. https://t.co/NSpejgvpZa— Jakop Dalunde (@JakopDalunde) December 6, 2020
“I still think it was very brave of DN to let BMW use Greta Thunberg for their greenwashing. Some kind of contemporary portrait in shamelessness,” a user tweeted.
Jag tycker ändå det var väldigt modigt av DN att låta BMW använda Greta Thunberg för deras greenwashing. Nåt sorts samtidsporträtt i skamlöshet.— Erik Järvelä (@erikjrvla) December 6, 2020
“Corporate advertising in the Greta Thunberg edition of DN is very special...”, another user tweeted.
Corporate advertising in the Greta Thunberg edition of DN is very special... pic.twitter.com/8QW8JfpSvu— Duncan (@shaksper) December 6, 2020
“Isn't it more startling of DN to accept the ad with Greta at the helm? Money first. That BMW makes the ad is probably less strange”, another one chimed in.
Är det inte mer uppseendeväckande av DN att ta in annonsen med Greta vid rodret? Möney first. Att BMW gör annonsen är väl mindre konstigt.— Pontus Haag (@PontusHaag) December 6, 2020
Expressen's car expert Jan-Erik Berggren argued that while BMW's message is bold, it has some merit to it.
“It is cocky of a car manufacturer to behave in such a way. But there is at least one area where BMW leads the climate race among the manufacturers and that is raw materials for electric car batteries. There, BMW has worked hardest to ensure the ethical and sustainable supply of necessary metals,” Berggren argued.
Dagens Nyheter editorial manager Martin Jönsson noted to Expressen that Greta had seen all the ads in advance.
However, Thunberg herself noted in an Instagram post that her input was rather limited.
“And of course I have had – as all editors-in-chief I guess – a very limited role. I have come up with suggestions and feedback, such as that you can not have a serious climate and environmental reporting while allowing ads that are harmful for the climate and the environment,” Thunberg wrote.
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This is not the first time Greta Thunberg has been linked with BMW. Before her acclaimed sailing across the Atlantic in the summer of 2019, it emerged that Greta's trip had been sponsored the the luxury car giant.