The year ahead

Is sustainability going to take a back seat when there's an economic crisis?

The chair of Ad Net Zero on whether the impending recession will have an impact on the sustainability agenda

By Seb Munden

Short answer, it can’t, and it won’t. The next few years are critical to making the biggest possible impact on greenhouse gases to counter rising global temperatures.

And the public agree. 78 per cent of the UK believe the climate change is as important as the cost-of-living crisis - according to research released by Google and Ipsos at the Ad Net Zero Global Summit.

In many places around the world climate change is already causing human catastrophe and economic crisis. Addressing these threats to climate, community and prosperity across the world cannot take a back seat, and our industry must move faster in changing the way we work and the work we make.

In fact, the evidence suggests sustainability and saving money go hand in hand for companies and citizens. We saw this with the winner of the first Ad Net Zero Awards, Hellmann’s and Mindshare’s "Cook Clever, Waste Less".

This powerful campaign has the potential for strong carbon reduction impact, with 32 per cent of those who watched it saying they would start using leftovers to make meals. This could equate to 3.1 million kg of food saved from landfill, equivalent to 5.9 million kg of CO2 emissions as well saving households money.

There are many more examples of brilliant ways to be more sustainable and save money - I highly recommend reviewing the work that won in this year’s awards. Many speakers at the second Ad Net Zero Global Summit gave examples of how they found savings while in pursuit of net zero goals, most welcome during this time of inflationary pressures.

In the session, Why Sustainability is Central to Brand Success, Sarah King, Senior Partner, Sustainable Transformation Practice, Kantar, shared how people’s values are in favour of sustainability: 47 per cent of consumers are prepared to invest time and money in companies that try to do good and 51 per cent believe that buying sustainable products is a demonstration of who they are.

And it is not only about consumers. 75 per cent of Millennials look at a company’s sustainability strategy when considering where to work, and 77 per cent of GenZers want to work for organisations whose values align with their own.

Kantar’s research findings were echoed during another session, Futureproofing Business in a Sustainable World, where leaders from Meta, Publicis Groupe and Ogilvy highlighted how choosing sustainability is also about futureproofing your businesses.

Kantar’s research found four in five consumers want to make sustainable choices and expect businesses to support them in doing so. Research from McCann also supported the idea that companies will do better in the long-term if they innovate sustainably.

This kind of innovation, and the advertising of more sustainable solutions for everyday needs could not only kick start the economy, and address productivity, it could also decouple financial growth from wastefulness and single use of the planet’s resources.

We have said all along that Ad Net Zero is not just about reducing carbon, it is about helping companies to save money, attract talent and ultimately future-proof their business. This is why accelerating your business to a more a sustainable model (and helping others to do so too) must be top of the to-do list in 2023.

Seb Munden is Chair of Ad Net Zero


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