13 October 2022

Brands that are serious about sustainable marketing should consider the full media ecosystem

In the following POV our Global Head of Sustainability, Sophie Mangnall, explores how brands that are serious about sustainable marketing should consider the full media ecosystem.

When we consider how sustainable a piece of communications is, the focus tends to be on message and creative execution. There is no dispute that advertising has the power to craft compelling stories that shape people’s actions and beliefs and a misleading, greenwashing message could promote unsustainable behaviours or result in more damage for a brand than good.

But what about the media that carries the message?

In recent years, the influence and impact of media as a vehicle has become more widely recognised. It’s why WPP have included media in their scope 3 net zero targets, committing to a net zero supply chain by 2030. This comes after finding that 55% of the holding company’s total emissions are generated by the advertising placed on behalf of clients.

Media has a wider impact on society. It’s how we stay in touch with friends, it’s where we get our news, and it’s the backdrop to our commute and our Friday night takeaway.

A truly sustainable outlook can unlock media that drives deeper audience connections with greater authenticity. Here are some questions you can ask of yourself and your agency to begin this journey:

1. How do we consider the media supply chain to design media activations and experiences to be sustainable from the outset?

There are a number of areas where we can consciously limit waste. In production it could mean prioritising recycled materials and reuse of existing assets. We can design web and e-commerce experiences that are lower carbon and we can prioritise media that is power through renewable energy, such as in out of home for example.

2. How do we make our investment responsible?

We can vote with our investment and support and fund positive, accurate content from publishers who are credible and in service of a net zero society, while avoiding publishers who disseminate climate misinformation.

3. How can we invest in media that doesn’t just reduce impact, but has a positive impact?

As sustainable marketing rises up the agenda, new initiatives present opportunities to invest in media that carries a positive impact. For example we can now buy living out of home formats that benefit local biodiversity or other formats that provide Wi-Fi for local communities. In addition we are seeing media partners who promote sustainable and positive values emerge such as WeAre8, whereas our partnership with Motion Content Group is find new ways to fund positive, sustainable programming through their Positive Impact Funding.

4.Where do we begin?

There are also a lot of great tools and initiatives to support a shift towards sustainable media investment:

GroupM’s decarbonisation framework and carbon calculator is available to any agency who sets matching targets. It measures the impact of your media activity and can be used to stay accountable.−The IPA media owner showcase will help you complete an audit of the right media partners for your brand−Join industry initiatives such as Ad Net Zero in the UK are sources of information and influence to drive for industry-wide change−The Conscious Ad Network Sustainabilitymanifesto is an excellent source to lay out your first steps.

It’s an exciting time for brands who want to be serious about the sustainability of their media, as we are still at the early stages of forming what this means for marketers. By taking the first step on your journey today, you are helping shape the industry’s tomorrow with truly positive impact.