- Ad firms seen behind greenwashing and excessive consumption
- New emissions metric for advertising industry could drive change
- Switch to pushing green products fits with changing demand
GLASGOW, Nov 13 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – As the world’s “architects of desire”, the advertising industry – criticised by some as complicit in greenwashing campaigns and for promoting excessive consumption – could play a major role in driving greener choices, executives said this week.
But making that shift might require new metrics to measure the climate-heating emissions from the “uplift” in sales advertising promotes, industry experts said at the COP26 U.N. climate talks, due to close this weekend in Glasgow.
“Some of the most creative, inventive, persuasive people come into this industry” – and that could drive “an incredible ability to engage and inspire people with climate solutions”, said Solitaire Townsend, co-founder of Futerra, a creative agency focused on sustainability.
But right now advertising “is too often selling destruction”, she said, whether promoting continuing use of fossil fuels or flogging other high-carbon, planet-endangering behaviour such as throw-away fashion.
The good news for ad agencies, she said, is that many people want to switch to climate-smarter choices but are struggling to find them or figure out how to make needed changes.
A poll her agency carried out early this year with market researchers Ipsos MORI, of 20,000 consumers in 27 wealthy and developing countries, found 77% now care about climate change.
“In marketing speak, we have a clear market,” said Townsend, whose firm has offices in London, New York and Stockholm.
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