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‘The opportunity of the century’: How to build trust in your green messaging, with Media Bounty 

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Sustainability. It’s big business, and whatever you do, it’s increasingly becoming your business. But how do you tackle the issue in a way that engages people? 

Following our research into the “Persuadables”, uncovering what people really think about climate, Media Bounty and ACT’s Jake Dubbins and Flo Lujani were joined by Matt Bourn, Director of Comms at the Advertising Association, and co-author of the new book, Sustainable Advertising: How advertising can support a better future, for a discussion on how to craft messaging that moves people to action.  

Here, we outline the three key themes from the conversation – opportunity, responsibility, and positivity.  

The good news… 

For years, it’s been the wrong side- making money from the climate crisis. But now, the smart money is on the solution. It’s the economic opportunity of the century. 

Last week’s CBI and ECIU report found that the net zero economy grew by 9% in 2023 – compared to 0.1% for the wider economy. For agencies and brands, focussing on sustainability isn’t just ethically sound anymore. It’s financially and commercially essential.  

With great growth, comes legislation 

Legislation is no longer coming. It’s here. Waves of stricter legislation have started in Europe, with the ‘Unfair Commercial Directive’ and ‘Green Claims Directive’ and are having a ripple effect across the globe.

Rules will impact every market, worldwide. With potential fines amounting to 4% of annual turnover, the time to get prepared is now.  

Sustainability isn’t optional anymore. From comms to product development – legislation means that it can, and will, touch every part of your business. It’s no longer just a job for the sustainability and marketing teams. From a comms point of view, it won’t be long until every brief is a climate brief. As Lujani puts it ‘every advertising strategist needs to be a climate strategist’. 

Doom and gloom moves no one 

Matt put it bluntly when he said the last thirty years of climate advertising has been a failure. Why? Doom and gloom.  

Advertisers’ love of the creative bombshell means that shock factor has been prioritised over work that provides positive solutions. This has made the issue feel too big and scary to tackle, and put people off taking action.  

To get around this, future sustainability campaigns need to have positivity at their core. They might not even mention sustainability at all. In the words of Bourn – ‘don’t make ads about sustainability, just make great ads’. Campaigns like Media Bounty project, ACT Climate Labs, and Possible’s Bump into Brum are shining examples of making ads about climate, without talking about climate. The campaign made the benefits of sustainability feel personal, local and immediate. Far more compelling than fearmongering.   

And if all else fails? Be funny. Humour is a massively underused technique for sustainable brands, and it’s Flo’s top tip for those wanting to stand out from the crowd. 

If you need guidance navigating new regulation, or help crafting brilliant sustainability messaging that sticks – get in touch with Media Bounty on hello@mediabounty.com. 

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