How climate change became a cornerstone of Bupa’s healthcare messaging
‘Healthy Planet, Healthy People’ campaign highlights private healthcare provider’s commitment to sustainability.
Bupa recently launched its new sustainability strategy, ‘Healthy Planet, Healthy People’, with a film that was shot using sustainable, virtual production methods – which, it says, used 95% less carbon than traditional on-location filming.
The campaign signifies a two-year journey to overhaul the private healthcare provider’s brand purpose, explains Zoe Vafadari, its chief brand and corporate affairs officer. “At Bupa, we want to help people live longer and happier lives, and to make a better world. And that last bit is our commitment to sustainability.”
While people don’t necessarily equate the healthcare sector with transformation, Vafadari says: “We are trying to be braver in terms of making decisions faster and transforming our sector from the inside out.”
Like every other industry, the healthcare sector is having to reckon with the impact it has on the planet, and with over 85,000 employees working across a number of different environments, Bupa is facing a significant challenge consolidating its commitments to become net zero by 2040.
“It means radical change across our healthcare operations, our supply chain and our investment portfolio. We have operations in Australia, Latin America, Poland... so there’s a lot to change within our own operations. Then, naturally, our commitments have to extend to our suppliers, such as reducing the waste from unnecessary PPE and so on. And then we have to consider how we champion change on a wider scale.”
The implications of climate change on global health are still unfolding, but as Vafadari goes on to explain: “At a very basic level, the climate crisis is impacting the air we breathe, the food we eat and the water we drink. Our basic human needs are all impacted by this – if the quality of these suffer, we all suffer.”
And these are just the physical symptoms. Eco-anxiety is now a term being used to describe the mental health implications of the impact of climate change: “We’re trying to make sure we’re there to help our customers manage the widespread mental health implications as a result of the climate emergency.”
This is where ‘Healthy Planet, Healthy People’ comes in. The concept of Bupa’s campaign hinges on the idea that there is a connection between health and the planet – that Bupa will do its role as a healthcare provider to help customers manage their own symptoms, as well as treat the root cause of climate change through sustainable practices.
“This involved drawing attention to our role as a global healthcare business and we wanted to show how we’re going to the far-flung corners of the world to illustrate what treating the planet as a patient might look like. Quite quickly, of course, we realized that traveling to those places in person was not appropriate given the nature of the campaign.”
A team at AMV BBDO, the agency behind the campaign, provided the solution of CGI alternatives, with Flare Productions using technology primarily used in gaming to create the drastic environments depicted in the spot. “So we were able to highlight those far-flung corners without leaving the M25,” says Vafadari.
The result was a shoot that was 95% less carbon intensive compared with filming on location, with the studio it used running on clean fuels and LED lighting. On its completion, 3.97 metric tons of CO2 had been produced, compared with the estimated 121.53 metric tons that would have been produced if shot traditionally and on location, with Bupa saying these emissions were calculated using Ad Net Green.
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Outside of its internal operations and its campaign production, Bupa is also investing in sustainability in the healthcare sector more widely, according to Vafadari. Its global talent and innovation program Eco-Disruptive finds and supports sustainable, scalable startups and innovative solutions that will improve health, as well as secure the future of the planet.
At present there are 18 startups on the list, tackling everything from recyclable PPE to sustainable farming systems. “It’s really driving a lot of energy and excitement within the business.”
Over the course of the next year, Bupa will continue to champion its sustainable messaging by further rolling out ‘Healthy Planet, Healthy People’ across social media, bolstered by a video series ‘Mission: Sustainable Health’ that goes into greater detail on the relationship between climate change and health.