High on the agenda at last week’s Advertising Week Europe event, unsurprisingly, was the climate emergency. In an inspiring session MPs, Advertisers and Media professionals came together to discuss what we as marketers can do to help.

Advertising has an astonishing impact on CO2 Emissions and the environment, be that from the placement and running of media to the excess and waste that come out of production. The average IPA agency produces 84K tonnes of CO2 from its business practices (for reference, an elephant weighs one tonne). As Europe’s largest advertising industry, the UK can and should lead the way in transforming our industry’s impact. Ad Net Zero was launched in late 2020 to ensure that, as an industry, we achieve real net-zero carbon emissions by 2030. They set out a five-point plan of action that agencies should take to reduce their impact:

  1. Curtail operational and individual carbon emissions
  2. Curb emissions from production
  3. Curb emissions from media planning & buying
  4. Curb emissions through awards and events
  5. Harness advertising’s power to support consumer behaviour change

Making these changes need not be at the expense of growth for brands. From the standpoint of enlightened self-interest, we should care about climate change not just because we are environmentalists but because we are businesspeople. The impact of climate change will affect a huge number of industries – we have a responsibility to act now to mitigate that risk as well as maximise our opportunities.

Last week also heralded the arrival of the Campaign & Ad Net Zero Awards which will recognise work from across the industry that promotes more sustainable ways of living and building a net-zero economy. These awards will act as a benchmark of excellence and inspiration with categories awarding great work across more green media planning, production, events, and business transformation. Creating and placing work with as low a carbon impact as possible is vital; so, it is fantastic to see this work being recognised by the industry. It’s equally important to consider your overall impact. Campaigns that promote a green message but don’t consider their impact has fallen foul of consumers’ opinions and the work has been accused of green-washing. The most successful campaigns will work over the longer term to promote an environmental message and won’t overclaim their impact.

Here at the7stars, we are dedicated to ensuring that our media planning and buying is conducted in a way that minimises the impact on CO2 emissions and on the environment at large. This is why we joined the IPA for the launch of the Media Climate Charter in 2021, providing agencies across the Media industry with a series of tools and resources to actively tacking the industry’s carbon footprint caused by media activity. This came hand-in-hand with a Carbon Calculator (which is available to all of our clients) that allowed advertisers to measure the overall carbon emissions that came from media planning and buying, creating a method for identifying areas that be adjusted to reduce the environmental impact of running client campaigns.

Marketers have the right skill set to effect change. The work we create over the course of our careers can inspire positive change in consumers and help deliver a mindset shift in the wider population. All those small acts towards a sustainable and lower-impact economy will be fundamental in helping us achieve the limits on climate change.