Ad Net Zero demands action across the whole process of ad development, production and media placement. Canny recycling is one way that brands and agencies can help, says Andria Vidler.

Covid-19 forced brands to get creative when it came to re-purposing, adapting and re-using content. As the national lockdowns hit across Europe, a significant proportion of our work at Tag, as marketing production specialists, was channelled into helping our clients adapt to a world where shooting new video or images had become impossible overnight.

It’s incredible how the crisis accelerated change across the industry that would once have been thought impossible to achieve in three years, let alone three days. At Tag, we swiftly built a network of work-from-home creative studios in our employees’ front rooms and home offices, where we made the magic happen.

The results? For countless clients, we breathed fresh life into old footage, re-cutting content for social to give extra legs to brand campaigns. A great example was how we built an ad from scratch using CGI to launch Lexus’s new UX black edition.

And it wasn’t just Tag. Who could forget the incredible ‘You Can’t Stop Us’ spot from Nike? Released during the middle of a summer of cancelled sport, the ad captured the hearts and minds of fans across the world, using spliced footage of sporting greats in a powerful montage that went viral instantly.

This shows the creative strength of marketing production at its finest. It highlighted to clients the hidden treasure troves of content assets at their disposal – some forgotten, some neglected, some never used. I am really proud of the skill and creativity of our teams at Tag who swiftly supported these campaigns.

The Covid-19 lockdown conditions have inadvertently exposed an opportunity that may otherwise have gone under the radar: eliminating content wastage and maximising content utilisation. At Tag, we believe we need to move fast as an industry to become what we call “digitally sustainable”.

Embracing a digitally sustainable mindset will help you cut down on costs, but it will also reduce our industry’s environmental impact, which will be increasingly important as the UK continues to progress its net zero ambitions. We are all aware that flying teams of people with huge suitcases of clothes and equipment is increasingly hard to justify, both as a marketing investment and because of huge carbon costs.

To make the ambitious changes needed to reach the UK’s goals, each industry has its part to play. Reducing asset waste should be a target for marketers when drawing up their sustainability goals, sitting alongside their ambitions to cut down on packaging or their reliance on plastics.

What surprised me when I joined Tag earlier this year was how often digital marketing production is overlooked when it comes to setting sustainability objectives. I observed many blue-chip companies had regional market teams creating content in silos, which often meant that content was being needlessly replicated.

On top of that, having many different teams, agencies, producers and designers creates huge scope for error when it comes to brand identity. At Tag, our ambition is to offer a business model with the elimination of asset wastage policy at its heart, creating content centrally that can be tweaked in post-production to become market specific, reducing costs and stretching content further.

This is a major starting point for us, but there’s more the industry needs to do. The Advertising Association this week has mapped out a plan of attack on this important challenge. With consumers setting an ever higher bar for companies to demonstrate our responsibilities to the planet, embracing a digitally sustainable mindset could be an important step in creating a more efficient and environmentally-friendly vision of marketing in 2021.