By Ellen Ormesher | Senior Reporter

June 24, 2022 | 3 min read

Green industry network and non-profit Creatives for Climate has launched Greenwash Watch, a training program starting August 1 as a summer school that will give advertisers the tools to push back on greenwashing in their work and drive real strategies for change.

The program has kicked off with a short film that asks attendees of this year’s Cannes Lions Festival to name examples of greenwashing and explain how it’s used to mislead consumers about the environmental impact of their choices.

A Chartered Institute of Marketing study shows a growing skills gap in the industry when it comes to communicating sustainability effectively: 40% of marketers report that they lack relevant sustainability marketing qualifications, despite 76% of them having been involved in sustainability projects over the past five years.

The Greenwash Watch course – which has been designed by sustainability professor Gill Willson and facilitated live by Evva Semenowicz – will therefor span seven modules, from “selling the business case to the CMO” to “weeding out the greenwashing in a sustainability strategy”.

Each module will see experts from academia, the advertising industry and grassroots activists equipping participants with the tools they need to create impactful campaigns that preserve the future of the planet. Expert speakers include Samuel Gosschalk of Greenpeace, Alex Weller from Patagonia and Christian Smith of Zalando.

Creatives for Climate started as a response to a rallying cry from Extinction Rebellion at Cannes 2019. Three years on, it is now an official global non-profit foundation supported by a 12-month grant from the KR Foundation.

“Even as a community of impact frontrunners, we acknowledge that we are all learners in this new emerging ‘impact space’ and that this demands a level of openness and honesty to admit: ’I don’t have all the answers’,“ says Zoë Red, its strategic partnerships director. “This is something the creative industry is vehemently opposed to doing.

“We want to see more leaders having the courage to question what a ’green brief’ really is. Is this an opportunity to contribute to a regenerative and inclusive future, or is it a brief from a product or brand that’s ‘maintaining business as usual’ while appearing to drive change – ie greenwashing?”

The launch of the program follows a week of action in Cannes that saw climate campaigners from Greenpeace and Clean Creatives confront leaders of the advertising industry over its work with fossil fuel and high-carbon clients.

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