The Advertising Association has established a Climate Action group that includes members from other trade bodies, advertising agencies, brands and media owners as it lays out a plan to coordinate the industry efforts to take action against climate change.
The initiative has been set up in partnership with Incorporated Society of British Advertisers (Isba) and the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) and includes members from Unilever, Sky, The Guardian, adam&eveDDB, APA, W&K, Credos, PPA, Iris, Adjust Your Set, PRCA, Marketing Society, The Marketing Academy and Mindshare
“We are clear on the role we want our industry to play in helping the UK economy move as fast as it can to Net Zero. Advertising accelerates behaviour change and can be a real force for helping drive sustainable growth and social good,” said Stephen Woodford, the AA’s chief executive.
“We saw this happening in 2019 with fantastic initiatives like #ChangeTheBrief. With ideas like this and many, many more, we have the opportunity to make a massive impact through the right action over the years ahead of us.”
It will be made up of two steering groups – The Climate Action Steering Group (CASG) and the Climate Action Working Group (CAWG) – which will both contribute to a report to measure the UK advertising industry’s current carbon footprint and what businesses are doing to reduce.
They will then consider options for more ambitious collective action by the industry, particularly in encouraging an increasing presence of more sustainable products, services, messaging and behaviours in advertising.
The first group will be led by AA vice chair, Sebastian Munden, who is also EVP and general manager at Unilever. It will meet every six months, beginning in March and focus on driving engagement within the industry against initiatives legislated by the UK Government.
The second, The Climate Action Working Group, will be chaired by Credos’ James Best and will meet every month to implement the objectives set by the Steering Group. Its initial focus the production of Carbon Footprint Annual Report (CFAR), establishing a benchmark for the industry and sharing best practice.
Best explained: “Our Council was unanimous in the decision to focus our efforts in the best way possible to tackle climate change. This is a wide-reaching issue but I am confident that our industry is well placed to move quickly and with real impact. There can be no doubting the huge appetite from the thousands of professionals working in UK advertising to play their part in active change.”
The groups will also look at supporting the Advertising Standards Authority’s plan for exploring the role that advertising regulation can play in response to concerns around climate change and the human impact on the environment.
It comes after a year in which the advertising industry was put in the spotlight by activist group Extinction Rebellion. Last May, it issued an open letter to advertisers and their agencies urging them to use their powers of persuasion to tackle the global climate and ecological emergency.
The group then turned up at the ad industry's annual gathering in Cannes to make its demands to global brands and agencies.
Just a few months later, in September 2019, thousands of people from over 150 advertising agencies gathered to strike in Parliament square in support of global climate protests.