New industry initiative to help kids spot greenwashing

school kidsUK advertising’s non-profit education programme, Media Smart, has launched an awareness campaign for teachers, parents and young people to help them understand environmental claims in advertising and marketing.

The initiative takes the form of a simple five-point guide and short film, accompanied by a social media campaign, featuring a series of vox pop films from young people, to increase awareness of what constitutes greenwashing and support the work of the Advertising Standards Authority.

The campaign is in response to research showing 52% of teenagers are concerned about the lack of action on climate change, with 56% of them feeling anxious about the issue.

Media Smart worked with youth-centred creative business Livity to gather insights from focus groups of young people on how they perceive greenwashing, the areas they are most concerned about, as well as sharing their top tips to spot it. It highlighted how young people feel underprepared and disempowered to be able to find out the information on a company’s environmental practices.

The resulting five-point guide and short film can be shared in classrooms, assemblies or at home to raise awareness of the ASA and how it regulates environmental claims in ads. It offers advice such as interrogating ‘green’ symbols, being suspicious of buzzwords which are not backed up with evidence, and encouraging fact-checking a company’s claim.

An accompanying social media campaign will be rolled out on Media Smart’s social media channels via Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and LinkedIn during March and April, reaching young people, teachers and parents directly with the key messaging.

Media Smart chair Dan Clays, who is chief executive of OMG UK, said: “Raising awareness of how to spot misleading green claims in advertising and marketing is an incredibly important conversation for Media Smart to initiate and builds upon the vital work done by the ASA.

“Insights from Media Smart’s conversations with young people show they feel a burden to undertake fact-checking when making their purchases. This campaign is built using direct insights from young people for young people to highlight and fill in the gaps in their knowledge about greenwashing and what they expect from brands in this space.”

Advertising Association chief executive Stephen Woodford added: “This is a fantastic new resource to help young people understand how advertising and marketing claims are regulated when it comes to making accurate environmental claims. It is important we do everything we can to make sure our work to promote sustainable products, services and behaviours can be trusted.”

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