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22 March 2022
What marketers need to know about net zero marketing
SustainabilityNet zeroEnvironmental & social issues
Marketing has an important role to play in the fight against climate change, from the avoidance of greenwashing to driving behavioural change: the WARC Guide to Net Zero Marketing explains what needs to be done.
Why it matters
Almost half (46%) of marketers afforded the environment and financial growth equal importance in a recent survey conducted for WARC’s Marketer’s Toolkit 2022. But financial growth is more easily understood and measured – marketers will need to change their own mindset as well as those of consumers
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.
Advertisers should adopt a lean mindset as the demand for net zero media plans grows, including rethinking ad lengths – a 10-second ad will likely have less carbon impact than a 30-second ad. In this context, brands that can generate quick recall will have an advantage.
Actionable suggestions include:
Invest in regenerative agriculture and renewable materials and encourage sustainable behaviour across the entire value chain.
Use recyclable paper, printed by carbon neutral printers. Use renewable energy to illuminate out-of-home adverts.
Make advertising shoots climate-friendly by reducing travel: use local crew, send fewer people, fly economy, take the train.
Reduce carbon footprint at industry events by auditing the entire supply chain: evaluate the venue’s sustainable policies, integrate hybrid experiences for those who opt out of travelling.
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.
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 which are practising green and sustainable advertising; within one year, three in five 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.
That will require 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.
“The global marketing industry is well-placed to help solve 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” – Lena Roland, Managing Editor, WARC.com.