Unilever, Adam&Eve and Havas commit to measuring carbon footprint of ads with free tool

AdGreen has launched a free carbon calculator that is already being adopted by brands and advertising agencies to measure the CO2 emissions produced by ad campaigns in an effort to help the industry reach net zero by 2030.

Over 130 companies had preregistered for the tool, which was set up by the Advertising Association’s green offshoot, including Unilever, Adam&Eve and Havas.

The industry body is encouraging more clients, ad agencies and production companies to record data associated with the development of a marketing campaign, including travel, fuel, catering and materials. Users can also engage with the calculator at script level to see if high emissions have been inadvertently baked into a script

The tool, which was first announced in May, has been designed so people at all stages of production can input data with the hope that companies can easily monitor which areas emit the biggest emissions.

AdGreen, which is made up of representatives from the likes of the APR, Google, Havas and Publicis, has funded the project via a 0.25% levy introduced in June.

“If we truly want to reach net zero then we need to start measuring and understanding our carbon impact,” says Jo Coombes, the project’s director. “The information generated by this tool will help companies make informed decisions in relation to internal reduction targets and to become more carbon literate in the process.”

The data collected will be published in an annual report from autumn 2022.

The tool has been modelled on the TV and film industry’s carbon calculator, which was launched in 2011 by Bafta’s sustainability arm Albert. AdGreen has spent the past 10 years learning from Albert and investing money into its own calculator.

Alchemy Digital designed the tool with Bafta Media Technology as developer – the same team behind Albert’s calculator.

A bid functionality that lists projects by their environmental impact has been planned for the tool post-launch, along with a reporting dashboard that would allow users to pull information required for company carbon reporting.

AdGreen is also planning to introduce a certification system in the coming years that will reward companies that meet a minimum requirement.

Online training has been made available for companies to get to grips with the system.

A view from production

Colin Offland, who heads up production label Chief, says his company has been counting down the days to its launch. “We’ve been trying to make our productions as sustainable as possible for a long time and to have a tool to quantify that is game changing.”

He believes the calculator will encourage conversations with its clients – which include TalkTalk, David Lloyd and TGI Friday’s – around minimizing waste and push out companies that aren’t meeting the necessary standards.

“The second you are aware of your carbon waste it motivates you to approach your production differently,” says Offland.

He adds that the calculator will help to reinforce controversial waste saving decisions, such as vegan-only catering, declining in-person meetings and banning paper treatments.