Instead, they should use the opportunity to act, offer leadership and communicate it to consumers while avoiding “Greenwashing”.
The advice comes in the wake of a glut of negative stories in the mainstream press, with many offering little hope of a deal being struck at the climate change summit in Copenhagen next month.
This week, sceptics also seized upon some leaked emails from some eminent researchers, using them to raise questions over some of the science.
The public is apparently “fatigued” by pressure from Government campaigns.
However, rather than shy away from sustainability – and marketing it – brands and companies should use it as an opportunity to restate the case for sustainable business.
“What’s happened in the media in the past few days has flagged up the gulf in communications terms between the science of climate change and the public’s understanding of it,” says Stuart Singleton-White, partner at communications agency, The Message Hub.
“Brands are a fantastic vehicle for showing consumers what they can do and they should make the most of that.”
The Prince’s Mayday Network has just released a short film (see below) to encourage small and medium-sized enterprises to seize the opportunities presented by addressing climate change.
The film features business leaders from Adnams, 4energy and Continental Clothing Co, as well as interviews with the Kingfisher’s chief executive and the corporate executive director of Lloyds Banking Group, Wholesale.
Marketing experts believe now is the time for businesses to take the high ground as the Government loses credibility.
“You don’t have to be the greenest company in the world, but you have to be taking it seriously,” says Chris Arnold, author of Ethical Marketing. “It really is a golden opportunity, just when the public are turning away from Government messaging.”
The Government this week launched the second part of its own campaign to encourage action. Following on from its TV ads it launched an outdoor push for the Act on CO2 campaign with ads in 900 locations across England.
Iain Patton, managing partner at Green, admits that Copenhagen is a distraction but it’s a distraction that’s engaging everyone.
“The Government’s Act on CO2 campaign was doomed to failure due to the disconnect between marketing spend and real action. It’s also fighting with so many other messages from Envirowise, the Energy Saving Trust and so on.
“It’s the same in marketing circles with everyone competing in the same space and all based on too many ‘asks’. There’s a real opportunity here to do more of what the likes of WWF are proposing – a focus on identity campaigns and a real look at consumption rather than just green products.”
The Copenhagen summit is just two weeks away. “The likelihood is that we’ll get some top level political agreement, followed by a year of further negotiations,” adds Singleton-White. “So while governments continue talking, brands could be acting.”