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Diageo trains 1,200 marketers and its agencies on how to avoid greenwashing

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By Hannah Bowler | Journalist

June 21, 2022 | 4 min read

Alcohol behemoth Diageo has created a training program to help its marketers embed sustainability into brand activity and avoid the pitfalls of ‘greenwashing‘.

Unveiled at Cannes Lions, Diageo’s ‘Brand Activism’ framework will teach marketers how to make supply chains more sustainable and how to engage consumers in environmental issues.

Diageo unveils 'Brand Activism' framework at Cannes Lions

Diageo unveils 'Brand Activism' framework at Cannes Lions

By the end of June, it said, all 1,200 employees within Diageo‘s marketing and innovation division will have completed the training.

Diageo will also train its roster of agencies to align Brand Activism across all areas of its advertising.

The program was presented on The Forum Stage by Jennifer English, global brand director at Baileys, and Carol Montgomery, head of society at Guinness. In the session, the pair also encouraged other brands to play an activist role within their own companies and shared tips and tools on how to integrate sustainability and marketing.

Montgomery admitted: “While we don’t have all the answers on sustainability in Diageo, it’s only by sharing our learnings that as a marketing industry we will be able to make a lasting change, together.”

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Brand Activism is part of Diageo’s wider sustainability action plan, Society 2030: Spirit of Progress, which commits to net-zero by 2030.

Recently, Diageo has worked on brand-led sustainability projects such as Ireland’s first Sustainability Farming Academy, with Baileys, and the phased removal of cardboard gift boxes from whisky brands including Johnnie Walker, Black Label, Buchanan’s and Bell’s.

It comes against a backdrop of increased scrutiny towards marketing campaigns that tout sustainability credentials. Last year, UK government regulatory body the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) announced they were cracking down on brands making false environmental and sustainability claims.

The likes of Oatly, Alpro, Innocent Drinks and Hyundai are among those to have faced criticism for disingenuous claims.

“Sustainability is a complex and fast-changing topic – and one that can create real opportunity but also challenges for our brands,” said English. “Greenwashing and regulations are on the rise and we want to empower our marketers to talk about our sustainability actions accurately and fairly while also creating big change for our consumers and planet.”

Montgomery added: “As a marketing industry, we have a real opportunity to make a tangible impact on our corporate sustainability.”

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