The climate crisis is the defining challenge of humanity, and misinformation plays a huge part in holding back progress. The IPCC report released on the 28th February 2022, states clearly “Any further delay in concerted global action will miss a brief and rapidly closing window to secure a liveable future.” On top of this, our biodiversity is declining at an alarming rate, with the current rate of extinction hundreds of times higher than the average over the past 10 million years.
All those involved in funding the media are responsible for being conscious of the climate costs in briefing processes; showing sustainable behaviours in advertising; cutting misinformation aligned to the universal definition of climate misinformation and consciously investing in professional climate journalism. Former US President Barack Obama pointed out the role of advertisers in this: “Each of us, whether we work in a tech company or consume social media, whether we are a parent, a legislator, an advertiser on one of these platforms, now’s the time to pick a side. We have a choice right now. Do we allow our democracy to wither or do we make it better? That’s the choice we face.”
We cannot beat climate change until we take responsibility to bring emissions in line with the Paris Climate Agreement, to limit warming to under 1.5 degrees centigrade, and regenerate our natural environment. The advertising industry must be a part of this solution.
All management teams should consider climate and sustainability commitments throughout their working practices. At board level, all leaders should be accountable for increasing sustainability throughout their business. This involves setting KPIs which are regularly reviewed against business objectives, and understanding the barriers which come in the way of progress.
The focus shouldn’t be on box-ticking, but on sincere long-term commitments to change, in terms of the sustainability practices within the organisation, and the behaviours shown in advertisements and where these ads are being placed.
Research shows that ethical and sustainability issues remain a key driver for almost a third of consumers, who claim to have stopped purchasing certain brands due to a lack of visible commitment on these issues. The market is potentially huge: according to Ipsos, 6 in 10 shoppers consider themselves to be an ethical or sustainable consumer.
People do want change, but they aren’t completely sure what actions they should take to have the greatest impact, and they need guidance. Brands have an important role to play. The global Ipsos’ Earth Day study 2022 showed that automotive, energy and home improvement retail are among the top sectors that could benefit from consumers’ increasing desire to shop more sustainably.
We believe all organisations should make the following commitments and these should be included in all agency briefs:
1. First steps
These are some questions we urge brands to answer, both internally and externally when in conversation with ad agencies and vendors during the briefing process.
Questions for media agencies and teams shaping creative work:
3. Production – how we are creating content;
3. Content – what are we showing on screen in adverts;
4. Making sure advertising is not financing misinformation
As per the universal definition, climate disinformation and misinformation refers to deceptive or misleading content that:
5. Consciously investing in climate journalism and content
To support sustainability, we need to ensure we keep funding media titles creating quality climate journalism and on the other hand making sure we’re not accidentally excluding them with our brand safety settings.
1. Check your block lists. Is the word ‘climate’ and related words on it? Take them off. Make the effort and invest in conscious media planning rather than leave it to the machines. Research has shown that certain ‘brand safety’ settings can have the unintended consequence of excluding minority audiences, and minority titles.
2. Consider whether you may be able to donate to good causes through your media investment – options include programmatic tools such as Good Loop and WeAre8, or influencer and creator collaborations who are happy to donate a percentage of their fees
3. Are you considering how much investment you want to build into projects for conscious advertising?
6. Climate literacy
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