Each week, we ask agency experts for their advice on the real problems facing marketing practitioners today. This week, we asked our readers what practical steps they’ve taken to make their agencies more environmentally sustainable.
Last week, the AdGreen Free Carbon Calculator was selected by Unilever, Adam & Eve and Havas as part of a broader effort to bring sustainable practices into the advertising industry. But the push to make marketing greener isn’t just in the big campaigns — it’s in the little things, too. We asked agency experts about practical ways their business has become more sustainable.
How do you solve a problem like…make your agency greener?
Ben Bulbul, CEO of Karmarama and Managing Director of Accenture Interactive
It’s not the most obvious place to start, but reviewing your employee’s pension and pension policy can have a surprisingly big impact. Make My Money Matter suggests that it can be 27 times more effective than any other procedure.
Then sign up for Ad Net Zero and monitor your carbon footprint. If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. Finally, think about how you can give more than you take. Our ultimate goal should be to go beyond zero and become positive in nature. Check out Get Nature Positive for inspiration.
Jemima Monies, Deputy General Manager, Adam & Eve DDB
In addition to our long-standing work toward sustainable production, we are driving industry-wide change by being at the forefront of the Ad Net Zero business plan. We’re also very focused on identifying those small improvements that can quickly make an impact in every corner of our office. We reduce, reuse and recycle wherever possible, with the goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2030. But perhaps our greatest achievement, in the literal sense at least, is the beehives on the rooftops, which are just beginning to produce honey.
Sue Millar, Director of Building Services, Havas UK
We like to make sure our workplace inspires future-conscious behavior – our HKX building is one of the most energy efficient developments in the country and we’ve even planted a living rooftop sedum forest to support wildlife.
We’ve reduced our coffee shop’s single-use plastic by 90% and turned our used coffee beans into fuel briquettes, we only supply 100% recycled paper and our restrooms are cleaned with recycled rainwater. We send zero waste to landfill. But Havas is not over yet! We are very proud of our ISO and B-Corp certifications and will continue to research new technologies and programs to reduce our environmental impact.
Tom Denari, President and Chief Strategy Officer, Young & Laramore
“Make a difference in the world” is part of our agency’s mission. A few years ago, we set up a multi-flow recycling program to reduce trash entering landfill, reducing waste from three landfills per week to one. We have developed programs to recycle e-waste, in addition to disposing of light bulbs and batteries that we also supply to employees. We have modernized our 25 year old HVAC system, which has reduced our electricity consumption by approximately 40%, which also reduces our carbon footprint. We’ve also added motion sensors in our restrooms to make sure we don’t light them up when they’re empty.
Trudy Waldron, Integrated Production Manager, MullenLowe Group UK
We’ve taken steps such as remote shooting, reducing filming attendance, encouraging the use of sustainable materials and looking at CGI instead of set configurations. We want to work with studios that are more mindful (renewable energy, food waste from catering). We reuse items, for example donating flowers to care homes. As co-founders of AdGreen, we’ve made improvements to our office space: motion sensor lighting, reduced water consumption and fewer single-use plastics. Our travel system includes an emissions calculator when booking, which allows us to monitor our footprint and provides us with real-time data.
Dan Coleman, Director of Strategy, Starcom
As marketers, we know there are always new or simple ways brands can be sustainable – and we all need to be responsible and brave in our actions. For our clients, we hold individual workshops and immersive events (eg, Starcom on sustainability in October) that focus on what they can do right away and other changes they can make in the long-term.
Providing a board for brand clients, helping them build sustainability into their business and marketing strategies. Have conversations with media owners. Open discussion with them to encourage brave behavior. Get your house in order. sustainable source. Achieving carbon neutrality. Recycling. Enter the carbon calculator.
Demi Albers, CEO, Division
As part of Dept’s commitment to B-Corp certification in 2021, we achieved carbon neutral status in March 2021 by offsetting our carbon footprint via our partner Terra Neutra, and will be carbon negative by 2023. By the end of the year, 95% of Dept’s systems will be operational and 70% will be operational. of our clients on green hosting infrastructure via Microsoft Azure. We’re also lobbying landlords to get 50% of our global Green Building offices certified, and we’ve introduced a new travel policy that includes subsidies to stimulate public transportation, a flexible policy to work from home, and use carbon-neutral travel for businesses regardless of cost.
We also measure indicators of impact on our clients’ work including reducing carbon dioxide emissions as a result of our projects, reducing resources used, and the number of people reached in awareness campaigns.
Chris Woodward, UK Group Managing Director, Oliver
We are aware of the struggle many businesses face – wanting to do good for the environment and actually doing good. We are committed to the latter. We joined the Ad Net Zero pledge and activated an immediate six-month plan to reduce emissions, plus we are committed to reaching carbon neutrality as a UK company by 2030. Our Oliver model naturally reduces the need to travel because flexibility is built in. We’ve done away with single-use plastics, switched to low-energy bulbs and a sustainable energy supplier, non-plastic suppliers, we have electric car charging points, and there are plans for a food composting zone.
John Howard, Planning Partner, Quiet Storm
Our big lesson? Don’t make sustainability (just) a management task. The danger is that it may become a confusing exercise or be sidelined by other seemingly more pressing challenges. As with diversity, the easiest way to make a big difference in sustainability is to empower the people in the business who really care to do something about it. As we found ourselves, all it takes is a small group of eager advocates to move things forward faster and more meaningfully than any point on the agenda at a board meeting.
Berry, Director of Strategy and Innovation, Green Rock
Choose sustainability. Choose getting rid of your desk. Choose the default production. Choose not to fly over everyone, anywhere, ever. Choose not to get taxis, even when the customer is paying. Choose to work in a place more inspiring than your Soho office. Choose a smaller TV in your meeting room. Choose to work remotely so that people can actually see their loved ones. Choose an organization to help you change your culture, habits, and carbon emissions (not just check boxes). Choose to turn off the lights in your prize locker which will mean nothing to the selfish vomits full of distress you have bred to replace yourselves when the planet is roasting. Choose your future.
Rob McFaul, Sustainability Leader, Mindshare UK
As the climate crisis is a “bigger than self” problem, this is a unique opportunity for the industry to act as a unit.
“#ChangeTheBrief” originated with Mindshare, who has asked “target disruptors” to help move it from a single agency initiative to the collective powerhouse of the entire industry working together via the “#ChangeTheBrief” alliance. The “#ChangeTheBrief” alliance allows agencies to respond to client briefs in a way that promotes sustainable lifestyles in the client audience. We were one of the founding agencies to work with IPA to create the industry’s IPA Media Climate Charter, and we were a founding member of the Advertising Association working group that created the Ad Net Zero initiative. We founded GroupM’s Mission Zero, which works to cement sustainability across the group. Our Grow Well launched this summer puts sustainability at the heart of our planning approach.
Jose Cel de Felipe, Executive Producer, Cult
Sustainability makes moral and business sense, and we embrace that at every turn. At Cult, we make production greener without compromising our creative services. We offer plant-based food as the first choice for all of our sprouts, use green generators and work with friendly suppliers to reduce emissions even further.
What do we do with the rest? We make up. We include a donation towards carbon neutral production and work with nonprofits to ensure best practices. We’ve worked closely with AdGreen from the start, and with the new Carbon Calculator, there’s no excuse not to raise awareness with customers and the industry.
Caroline Davison, Managing Director and Sustainability Leader, Elvis
The biggest challenge we face – the one we all need to rely on – relates to the carbon footprint of the work we are putting into the world. This far outweighs our collective office footprints. We need to take responsibility for what we promote. That’s why, along with working to achieve B-Corp certification, Elvis (in partnership with Purpose Disruptors and Iris Worldwide) has created an open source “Ecoffectivity” measurement framework, which helps agencies measure the true carbon impact of their campaigns.
Do you want to join the conversation? Email me at sam.bradley[at]thedrum.com will be included.