Ad industry comes together to tackle the climate crisis

The Advertising Association is launching two climate action groups in a bid to widen the ad industry’s engagement with the issue.

The Advertising Association (AA) is launching two climate action groups as it looks to coordinate how the ad industry can use its influence and resources to combat climate change.

The AA is working in partnership with ISBA and the IPA to bring together brands, agencies and other industry organisations to help tackle the climate emergency.

The initiative will focus on three key areas:

  1. Producing a report to measure the UK ad industry’s current carbon footprint and what businesses are doing to reduce it.
  2. Developing options to create more collection action within the industry, particularly in encouraging an increasing presence of more sustainable products, services, messaging and behaviours in advertising.
  3. Supporting the Advertising Standard’s Authority plan for exploring the role that advertising regulation can play in response to concerns around climate change and the human impact on the environment.

The AA’s CEO Stephen Woodford says: “Advertising accelerates behaviour change and can be a real force for helping drive sustainable growth and social good. We saw this happening in 2019 with fantastic initiatives like #ChangeTheBrief.

With ideas like this and many, many more, we have the opportunity to make a massive impact through the right action over the years ahead of us.”

The group’s members span all sectors and include brand such as Unilever, media owners like Sky and The Guardian, agencies such as adam&eveDDB and Mindshare, and organisations like The Marketing Academy.

The two groups will work in tandem to coordinate the industry’s efforts, while also having separate agendas and meeting times.

The Climate Action Steering Group (CASG) – chaired by Ad Association vice-chair and executive vice-president and general manager at Unilever UK & Ireland Sebastian Munden – will meet every six months, beginning in March. It will focus on driving the widest possible engagement with climate initiatives.

The group is comprised of representatives of major companies and organisations in the industry, including The Marketing Society, The Marketing Academy and the Public Relations and Communications Association.

Meanwhile, The Climate Action Working Group (CAWG) – headed up by the chairman of CAP/BCAP and Credos James Best – will meet monthly to work on the delivery of CASG’s vision and objectives, and make recommendations on how these are achieved.

Best says: “Our council was unanimous in the decision to focus our efforts in the best way possible to tackle climate change. This is a wide-reaching issue but I am confident that our industry is well placed to move quickly and with real impact. There can be no doubting the huge appetite from the thousands of professionals working in UK advertising to play their part in active change.”

CAWG’s first major strand of work will be the production of the carbon footprint report, establishing a benchmark for the industry and sharing best practice. The report is to be published before the UN’s climate change conference, COP 26, in Glasgow in November.

The Climate Action workstream is a key part of the AA Council’s new responsibility agenda in 2020, which will be unveiled at the its annual industry summit LEAD on Thursday (30 January).

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