DMA and IAB fail to join industry climate change action

plastic_n1The Advertising Association is aiming to show that the industry is indeed concerned about the growing environmental crisis with the launch of not one but two action groups, which will bring together trade bodies, brands and agencies in the fight against climate change.

The AA is working in partnership with ISBA and the IPA, as well as The Marketing Society, The Marketing Academy and the Public Relations & Communications Association.

The group’s members span all sectors and include brands such as Unilever, media owners like Sky and The Guardian, and agencies including Adam & Eve DDB and Mindshare. However, neither the DMA nor the IAB UK have joined the programme.

The initiative will focus on three key areas:

– Producing a report to measure the UK ad industry’s current carbon footprint and what businesses are doing to reduce it. The report is to be published before the UN’s climate change conference in Glasgow in November;

– Developing options to create more collection action within the industry, particularly in encouraging an increasing presence of more sustainable products, services, messaging and behaviours in advertising;

– Supporting the Advertising Standard’s Authority plan for exploring the role that advertising regulation can play in response to concerns around climate change and the human impact on the environment.

The Climate Action Steering Group will be chaired by Sebastian Munden, who is vice-chair of the AA and executive vice-president and general manager at Unilever UK & Ireland. It will meet every six months, beginning in March and will focus on driving the widest possible engagement with climate initiatives.

Meanwhile, the Climate Action Working Group is to be headed by James Best, the chair of CAP/BCAP and Credos. It will meet once a month to work on the delivery of the Climate Action Steering Group’s vision and objectives, and make recommendations on how these are achieved.

The two groups will work in tandem to coordinate the industry’s efforts, while also having separate agendas and meeting times.

Best said: “Our council was unanimous in the decision to focus our efforts in the best way possible to tackle climate change. This is a wide-reaching issue but I am confident that our industry is well placed to move quickly and with real impact. There can be no doubting the huge appetite from the thousands of professionals working in UK advertising to play their part in active change.”

AA chief executive Stephen Woodford said: “Advertising accelerates behaviour change and can be a real force for helping drive sustainable growth and social good. We saw this happening in 2019 with fantastic initiatives like #ChangeTheBrief.

“With ideas like this and many, many more, we have the opportunity to make a massive impact through the right action over the years ahead of us.”

Both the digital and data-driven marketing industries face serious questions over their environmental record.

Two years ago, the DMA claimed it was too busy helping companies comply with GDPR to tackle direct mail’s contribution to the plastic waste mountain, admitting that the issue was not even on its agenda. The direct mail sector is a major user of plastic, from polywrapping and plastic postcards to laminated mailshots and coated papers.

The DMA has yet to respond to our request for comment.

Meanwhile, it has been claimed that the digital and tech industry uses 3.6% of the world’s electricity, and produces nearly 500 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year.

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