Giffgaff: Carbon impact can’t be ignored when signing off on media plans

Giffgaff’s marketing strategy director says it is set up to give equal weight to “people, planet and profit”.

GiffgaffReach, frequency and cost are crucial when signing off on media plans, but “carbon impact” cannot be ignored, according to Giffgaff’s marketing strategy director George Bramall.

By making carbon impact part of the “conversation”, the company has been able to remove 52 tonnes of carbon from its environmental footprint over the past year, 14% of its annual media plan.

“We’re not happy with that yet, we want to move that forward, but it’s a really good start for the first year of that relationship,” she explained, speaking today (14 May) at Advertising Week Europe about the company’s sustainability efforts.

She added that Giffgaff might decide it wants to “diversify” from some of the “big digital players” as it moves forward. “So rather than everything going to Facebook and Google, we might bring some newer suppliers to the plan, who have made strides within this carbon reduction space,” she said.

Last year, the mobile network achieved B Corp accreditation and positioned it at the centre of its brand with the slogan ‘We’re Up To Good’.

As part of its positioning, the company recently launched its Up To Good Collective Fund, inviting partners and suppliers to contribute a percentage of their media spend to support carbon reduction.

Bramall noted that while the company’s primary focus is to “remove carbon at source,” she recognises that there are situations where that is not possible.

“[The fund] will enable us to really think about how we take those contributions from media,” she said. “How do we take those contributions from partners and actually make a real tangible difference and effort within those spaces?”

While most businesses are set up to satisfy shareholder need, we’re actually set up to balance people, planet and profit equally.

George Bramall, Giffgaff

As part of its positioning, Bramall highlighted Giffgaff’s partnerships with media owners, emphasising the company’s consideration of its presence in media spaces. To achieve this, it established principles centred on “responsible reach”.

“This is all around thinking about how we decarbonise at source the advertising that we’re putting out into the market,” she explained. “What are the choices we’re making in terms of the partners that we select to go on our media plan.”

As an example, she said the company requests that its out-of-home (OOH) sites be turned off after 12pm, as “no one is shopping for a refurbished phone at 3am”.

She also discussed Giffgaff’s partnership with Big Issue, highlighting the importance for vendors to be able to “plug into the right technology” to overcome the connectivity barrier posed by the decline in physical cash transactions.

To achieve this, Giffgaff provided Big Issue with 250 refurbished phones, with each refurbished phone saving 50kgs of carbon.

“It allowed us to talk a little bit more broadly around refurbished phones and the role of refurbished phones within the overall ecosystem,” she explained.

Bramall said the company’s three-year journey to achieving B Corp status was the most “challenging” thing the business has done.

Pernod Ricard on ’empowering’ its marketers to communicate on sustainability

“While most businesses are set up to satisfy shareholder need, we’re actually set up to balance people, planet and profit equally,” she shared.

Reflecting on Giffgaff’s 15-year journey, Bramall shared the company’s “founding principles”, highlighting its primary focus was on “people and planet” and its goal to maintain simplicity through a sim-only and online-only approach.

The company’s decision to go digital-only played a crucial role in achieving its sustainability goals, she said, as it enabled the company to operate without contact centres, to minimise its retail footprint, and provide customers with “efficient and effective” digital journeys.

As the company looks to 2024 and beyond, Bramall said it wants to be even more “ambitious” with its responsible reach planning principles, while understanding how B Corp impacts its talent acquisition.

“We hear quite often that the sustainable aspects of our business are quite a massive draw,” she said. “That’s brilliant for us because, as a small business, attracting top talent is going to make a big difference.”