Outside the venue, people dressed as giant strawberries to hand out punnets of delicious fruit dripping in HSBC-funded oil. It was part of Fossil Fuel London’s blitz during Wimbledon fortnight to expose what HSBC is really up to. Adverts also appeared on bus stops and the underground.
Big companies like HSBC are well-known for sponsoring sports events and teams, as well as art galleries and museums. Having their name associated with cultural institutions creates the impression that they are a force for good, supporting things that many of us love and enjoy.
But this social licence helps to mask the harm they do to people and planet. For instance, Shell’s ongoing relationship with London’s Science Museum has been the subject of many protests. Without apparent irony, Shell is currently sponsoring an exhibition about carbon capture technologies, which are touted as a way to allow fossil fuel companies to keep selling oil and coal.
HSBC’s sponsorship of Wimbledon serves the same purpose, cleaning up its image for the benefit of its customers. The bank is now committed to producing a new fossil fuel policy, but it has a long way to go before Wimbledon strawberries will be covered in cream rather than oil.