On Monday, April 22nd, people around the world celebrated the annual Earth Day. This is one of the biggest dates in the sustainability calendar and is a great opportunity for brands to communicate and celebrate their sustainability credentials. However, engaging with sustainability events can be tricky for brands, as it requires a delicate balance – especially in light of recent concerns around greenwashing. Despite this, moments like Earth Day can present great opportunities to connect with consumers and make their voices heard.

The latest research from the7stars’ Lightbox Lowdown reveals that 9 in 10 adults are worried about the impact of climate change on their daily life this year, and nearly half of Brits claim to make eco-conscious purchase decisions. With increasingly greater attention being placed on green initiatives, it is more important than ever for brands to adopt a clear approach to the climate crisis.  From Earth Day to Climate Action Week, myriad opportunities across the year enable brands to engage with the environmental movement in a timely way.

There are a few important things to consider when planning brand engagement with sustainability events. According to WARC research, brands that engage in cultural movements are well placed to build strong emotional connections with consumers, but only when these brand communications feel authentic. Advertisers should make sure their brand’s values align with their climate messaging, and that these values remain consistent. A great first step can be utilising a tool such as the7stars cultural calendar, to map out key cultural events and align sustainability communications with them. This ensures that a brand’s sustainability messaging isn’t relegated to a once-a-year nod but is woven throughout its communications strategy, to embed that essential feeling of authenticity.

Another great way to maintain this legitimacy is to weave sustainability considerations into all areas of your campaigns, from the message communicated, to the medium used. Using more sustainable media placements, prioritising sustainable formats, and acting upon data to reduce the carbon emissions of your media campaigns are all great ways of demonstrating depth in your environmental commitment. Green advertising is often more effective, with Scope3 research finding that 15.3% of advertising spend is wasted on inventory that generates no value, whilst still generating carbon emissions.  Sustainable digital media buys, such as those around higher quality publishers, often lead to less wastage, and more premium impressions being served.  Sustainable advertising can also be a great way to generate more buzz and capture consumer attention. Some examples of this include H&M repurposing old OOH adverts into handbags, and Dettol ‘repurposing’ OOH special builds to announce their refill range.

Crafting a business-wide approach to sustainability is key to ensuring this engagement doesn’t feel fake, forced or self-serving. Embracing a distinct approach to the climate crisis, along with a roadmap defining achievable steps to meet your sustainability goals, will make managing the impact of your communications much clearer and more effective. After all, the climate crisis is everyone’s responsibility, from governments and individuals to brands and employers.