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How can the advertising industry play a bigger role in providing solutions to the climate crisis?

Brands have both an opportunity and a responsibility to promote sustainable living

When it comes to the climate crisis the bigger risk for the creative industries and brands alike is doing nothing at all. For while cynics might believe the industry is simply in the business of ‘selling more stuff’ it is equally clear that the advertising industry is uniquely placed to encourage consumers to make smarter decisions.

There is no denying that there are difficult decisions ahead; it’s easier to change to compostable cutlery than to take difficult decisions to stop working with brands that remain overly reliant on fossil fuels. Yet being paralysed by the scale of the problem is not a sustainable approach to business.

Behaviour change; whether a big decision such as choosing an electric car or the smaller shift to wash your clothes at a lower temperature, has long been a marketing mainstay. With this in mind, we asked a selection of industry experts how the advertising industry can play a bigger role in providing solutions to the climate crisis.

 

CAMERON CUMMING

Cameron Cumminguse.jpg
Director of Performance
John Ayling & Associates

Despite the Ukraine Crisis currently taking precedence in our concerns, and rightly so, we have seen no abatement in the conversation around the climate crisis and the concern the British public have for the future. The events unfolding in Ukraine make it even more vital that we make significant changes in the way we power our businesses and homes.

Clients have always looked to the industry for the deepest understanding of what matters to our audiences. Putting environmental causes at the top of the agenda for many businesses reflects this recent influence. We must not get carried away though. The public is savvy to shallow words and no action. The advertising industry already has a trust issue, the more greenwashing that goes on the less weight any message will carry. Focusing our efforts behind projects like The Big Climate Fightback, from the Woodland Trust, are important steps.

We need to navigate clients’ desires to be seen to be saying the right thing and the reality of their business. We must not shirk away from our ability to offer honest advice, even if it is uncomfortable.

This is just as true under our own roofs. The industry has an ageism issue, with 78% of the workforce under 41 (IPA Agency Census 2020) but in this instance, it is a strength. The most vocal advocates for change are sitting behind our desks, doing great work for our clients.

Projects like the IPAs Climate Charter are important steps, but we must go further. We must galvanise our staff to challenge us to do better, we then must do better, before we can expect the same from clients.

 

CHARLIE BENNETT

Charlie Buse.jpg
Head of Client Services
Media Bounty

 

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