Marketing effectiveness specialist WARC is joining forces with the company behind Cannes Lions and the UK’s Advertising Association to launch a one-stop resource to help marketers find innovative ways to implement more sustainable actions to address the climate crisis.
Dubbed the WARC Sustainability Hub, the initiative brings together a collection of content, including best practice, effectiveness case studies and thought leadership. Additional resources will come from Ad Net Zero, the UK industry-wide initiative led by the AA, the IPA and ISBA, to reduce the industry’s carbon impact.
The launch comes as the drive to save the planet ratchets up, with the UN’s secretary general António Guterres recently branded the climate crisis “code red for humanity”.
To launch the Sustainability Hub, WARC is publishing the WARC Guide to Net Zero Marketing, designed as a roadmap to help the industry drastically reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions it produces, and achieve a net zero target.
The guide contains a compilation of recent industry research, and features contributions from more than a dozen industry experts from across the world. It presents frameworks to help marketers drive behavioural change, features examples of brands showing climate leadership, and practical advice on how to avoid the perils of greenwashing.
WARC.com managing editor Lena Roland, who is also author of the report, said: “The global marketing industry is well-placed to help in addressing the climate emergency, given its position at the intersection of several business disciplines with a major environmental impact. But reducing carbon emissions requires systemic change, including rethinking how adverts are made and taking a lean approach to media planning.”
With 46% of marketers affording the environment and financial growth equal importance, according to a recent survey conducted for WARC’s Marketer’s Toolkit 2022, the guide sets out a number of key areas.
Avoid Greenwashing: To avoid greenwashing, ensure net zero targets will stand up under the scrutiny of regulators and other stakeholders. Use offsets carefully as this is an area where net zero targets fall down.
A standardised approach for calculating carbon impact is essential, and brands must ensure claims can be substantiated. As carbon labelling schemes become more commonplace, labelling should be accurate and account for the full lifecycle of the product.
Radical Transformation: Advertisers should adopt a lean mindset as the demand for net zero media plans grows, which includes rethinking ad lengths – a ten-second ad will likely have less carbon impact than a 30-second spot. In this context, brands that can generate quick recall will have an advantage.
The Consumer Opportunity: Eco-friendly consumerism is growing and marketers should innovate around the circular economy to appeal to the climate-conscious consumer. Make it easy for people to recycle, reuse, rent and resell, and reward eco-friendly behaviour.
Data from Bain & Company shows second-hand luxury is growing five times quicker than new sales. A Kantar survey of 80,000 people across 19 countries found 20% of FMCG shoppers could be classed as “Eco-Actives” – people who take regular actions to reduce their packaging waste on a daily basis.
Meanwhile, a European study by InSites Consulting found consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable brands but also wonder why they should have to.
And a recent study by Dentsu International and Microsoft Advertising found that 77% of people globally say that, within five years, they only want to be spending money with brands who are practising green and sustainable advertising. While within one year, 3 in 5 people plan to boycott brands that don’t act on climate change.
Drive behavioural change: A key task for marketers will be to help drive behaviour change among consumers, to close the gap between what people say, and what they do.
Create clear and helpful messaging that people can easily understand. Use creativity to inspire people to make climate-friendly choices, and explain the multiple benefits of a green economy.
Marketers have an opportunity to create powerful campaigns for sustainable products and services, such as renewable energy and vegan cuisine, and reward consumers for their climate-friendly behaviour.
A series of podcasts will also follow, available to listen to on all major platforms, including Spotify, Apple, Castbox and RadioPublic.
WARC chief executive Paul Coxhill said: “It’s critical to act on the climate crisis now. As an industry, not only should we take the lead in helping change consumer behaviour, but we also need to look at our own conduct.”
AA chief executive Stephen Woodford added: “The challenge of climate change requires collective action, not just in the UK but around the world. This new Sustainability Hub will help advertising practitioners reduce carbon emissions and produce work to support more sustainable ways of living.”
The full WARC Guide to Net Zero Marketing is available to download here>
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