Sustainability is a point of focus for the world’s biggest advertiser. WARC's Geoffrey Precourt explores how P&G’s chief brand officer is working with the ANA and Cannes Lions to make it an industry priority, too.

Mark Pritchard, the Procter & Gamble chief brand officer who’s also about to begin his third term as chair of the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), has a mission that he believes his company – and the trade organization he heads – must address

“Using our voice in advertising, media, content, and marketing, we can drive sustainable behaviors and lifestyles,” he told an audience of some 3,000 industry leaders at the ANA’s 2018 Masters of Marketing Conference.

Pritchard is one of a core group of elite global marketing leaders who have pledged “to take back control of marketing.” And that directive is taking shape as a central purpose of the CMO Growth Council, a new initiative sponsored by Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and the Cannes Lions, a sister company of WARC. (Want to learn more about the CMO Growth Council from brands like Disney, American Express and Deloitte Digital? Download our report to see what five CMO-led initiatives are under way.)

The Council has identified five areas of focus. And Pritchard has taken on the chairmanship of a “Society and Sustainability” committee, a group that includes Linda Boff, CMO, General Electric Co. and chair, Ad Council; Andrew Clarke, chief marketing & customer officer Mars Inc., and Jane Wakely, CMO, Mars Pet Nutrition; Keith Weed, chief marketing and communications officer, Unilever; Diego Scotti, EVP/CMO, Verizon; and Stephan Loerke, CEO, World Federation of Advertisers (WFA). 

In a panel session discussion at the Masters gathering, Pritchard passionately made the case for a more open and diverse marketing community that, he insisted, will produce more engaging and effective advertising – the kind of positive change that will “lead disruption to drive growth through a global growth agenda.”

He also challenged conference attendees to “choose a sustainability challenge for your business. There are many to go around. Just start with plastic waste. Unless we do something about it, soon there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish.

“And if we don't do anything about climate change, we won't meet the Paris [Agreement] goals of keeping the temperature below an increase of two degrees Celsius.”

Similarly, he added, water is another pressing problem that we can address, as currently 844 million people “go without water every day.”

Pritchard’s “Society and Sustainability” group has already been doing its homework and found some positive movement by ANA members directed toward sustaining the planet’s diminishing resources. Specifically:

  • American Express is developing a non-plastic card.
  • Disney has eliminated straws and stirrers in its parks.
  • P&G has recycled beach plastic and turned it into bottles.

In the next breath, Pritchard emphasized that such random acts of goodness are only the stirrings of what could be a larger, more powerful, and industry-wide movement:  “If we get involved to promote sustainable behavior, it’s a movement we can own. We need to join forces to be a force for sustainability and for growth.”