Insight from Contagious’ Planet Matters event
21 June, 2022
I've spent the last six years working to help large corporates navigate their way through a changing sustainability landscape, while developing clear and transparent ESG reporting strategies. So, I was fascinated to gain a deeper understanding of how this same transition was being approached from a brand and advertising perspective, at a recent Contagious’ Planet Matters: Brands Against Calamity event.
Without a doubt, there is a widespread tension and shared concern across the industry that the fundamental goal of successful advertising is to drive consumption – when consumption itself is responsible for driving the climate crisis. Positively, the industry is beginning to understand that this goal of increased consumption needs to change, and that the people working in it have the creativity, inspiration and power to transform it from within.
On a personal level, I feel energised to have arrived in the industry at a time where such an important and vital transition is really beginning to gather momentum, and I’m excited to be a part of the critical role the advertising industry will need to play for us all to share a more sustainable future. Below are some of my key learnings from the event last week.
1. We need to ask more questions when trying to figure out how to solve the climate crisis within the industry, and forget the need to always be the one with the answers. It’s a new era, where agencies and their people need to work together to uncover the solutions, we need to make the changes so urgently required.
2. To make a positive change the industry needs to work to do three things:
- Change the brief
- Change behaviours
- Change the business
Every campaign worked on is an opportunity to normalise, promote and frame the more responsible lifestyle every one of us needs to adopt to tackle the climate crisis. It’s the industry’s responsibility to bring everyone on a journey to imagine a different more sustainable vision of the future.
3. When addressing sustainability, brands need to remain authentic and honest to existing well-established brand behaviours and they should always be true to the facts, true to the people and true to the brand.
4. When talking about climate change, brands need to firstly accept responsibility for their role in the crisis and subsequently offer genuine, actionable solutions moving forwards. Sustainability advertising needs to do two things; show how the brand is fixing the problem and not be boring.
5. Disappointingly, sustainability advertising has become a sea of sameness, with far too much emphasis put on data and facts that, in turn, we have all become somewhat immune to. The advertising industry has a key role to play in developing and improving the language and storytelling that brands can use to drive real meaningful change.
But to really have impact and make a real difference, it will take all of us working together and proactively choosing exactly what we want to do about it. I’m looking forward to this – are you?