Climate Change Brand Purpose Brand Strategy

The move toward green advertising: 'everybody needs to do something about sustainability'


By Audrey Kemp, LA Reporter

October 19, 2022 | 4 min read

Things are heating up, not just globally, but also in advertising. The influence that brands have on consumers necessitates immediate action from the industry. Climate and marketing experts at Advertising Week 2022 identified various ways marketers can spearhead the sustainability movement.

light bulb and plants

Ad Net Zero seeks to cut emissions in the ad industry by 2030 / Credit: Adobe Stock

The advertising sector has the power to persuade, educate and impact nearly every person on the planet, and with great power comes great responsibility to use it for good.

Here’s how brands, marketers and agencies can address the biggest existential threat modern humans face – climate change – according to experts at Advertising Week 2022.

The ad industry’s carbon-neutral future

The first step towards carbon neutrality within advertising is quantifying the industry's carbon footprint, one campaign at a time. Enter Ad Net Zero, a United Kingdom-based coalition of 100 different agencies, on a mission to eradicate carbon emissions in advertising by 2030. “Ad Net Zero is a movement … to decarbonize the advertising industry,” Stephen Woodford, chief executive officer of The Advertising Association, told The Drum following a panel discussion. “It’s the biggest change in our industry in 100 years.”

Now the coalition aims to tackle where 40% of the world’s ad spend goes, the United States, having officially launched Ad Net Zero USA on October 18. Here, Ad Net Zero plans to inaugurate a way to standardize the measurement of a brand campaign’s carbon footprint through a carbon calculator called Ad Green, and train the entire advertising industry on sustainability through a standardized training course. “If we make it work here, we will change the world,” he said. If we fail, we will fail.”

Diageo's sustainability transformation

Sustainability efforts are industry ignostic. Surprisingly, they are taking on greater importance in the alcohol sector, as evidenced by Diageo. In recent years, the global spirits company has initiated a number of climate conscious efforts, such as starting a glass recycling program for Smirnoff bottles, investing in regenerative agriculture for grains, planting 1 million trees and debuting the world’s first plastic-free spirits bottle for Johnny Walker.

“I’ve personally seen climate change. I’ve lived through hurricanes,” Ed Pillkington, chief marketing and innovation officer at Diageo North America said during a panel discussion. “Bottom line is that everybody needs to do something about sustainability.”

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