Marketers, get ready to build sustainability in advertising and production

Jonathan Parker, Managing Director (APAC) of APR (Advertising Production Resources), makes a compelling case for marketers to urgently rethink their entire production ecosystem, from strategy to execution, in order to implement sustainable practices. APR empowers marketers to make better, more informed decisions in their creative production process.

With the pandemic shifting operations to remote work, organizations have turned to greater reliance on digital solutions and prepared for new data-driven business models. As the global economy moves towards recovery, the urgency to maintain sustainability – both business and environmental – has become a business imperative to reduce costs and optimize existing assets.

While global conversations about carbon emissions have largely revolved around policies and industries with immediate environmental impact, the practices of the advertising industry – both on and off the production set – that contribute to d ‘significant carbon emissions and waste tend to be overlooked.

Every year, the global production community produces thousands of tons of carbon, as well as thousands of tons of waste, especially on set. Yet the same industry is capable of driving the unprecedented industrial and societal changes needed to live in a healthy future. Additionally, this capability extends to implementing sustainable practices to drive behavior change through subtle on-screen messaging, to improved processes that reduce the carbon footprint of production.

For agencies and brands, this would mean embarking on consistent revisions to production methods, recirculating creative assets, and providing deeper insight into the long-term benefits that sustainability brings for consumer loyalty and business.

Brands and agencies have faced challenges at the start of their sustainability journey. However, there are concrete ways and alternative solutions that will catalyze the reduction of their carbon footprint when producing content.

Winning Recipe: Data-Driven Transparency

To accurately assess a problem, or potential problem, in today’s data-driven business world, organizations must seek to collect the right data to inform them of next steps.

In a report published last year, Kantar revealed a list of telling figures on the growing awareness of sustainability practices among consumers in Asia: 58% are personally affected by environmental issues; 53% have stopped buying from brands that have a negative impact on the environment and society; and 63% think sustainability is a brand responsibility.

Significantly, we found that transparent practices are imperative, given the highly conscientious nature of today’s consumers. In fact, 80% of citizens around the world are more likely to choose brands that engage in sustainable practices, and 70% of those people are even willing to pay up to 35% more on average for eco-friendly brands. of the environment.

An exciting development in 2021 was the launch of the AdGreen Calculator, a tool created specifically for the production industry to capture all the elements of a production that contribute to its carbon footprint.

With real-time data, brands and agencies are able to see the reduction in their carbon footprint following changes to the production process, such as reducing travel or switching to renewable energy. This, in turn, educates and stimulates behavioral and operational change within agencies and organizations.

Within the industry, there are initiatives such as Green The Bid in the US and AdGreen and AdNetZero in the UK who created frameworks for carbon emissions metrics and calculators to create a complete picture of the carbon emissions produced by the advertising industry. Adtech company Good-Loop, which launched an ethical advertising tracker this year, found that a typical online campaign emitted 5.4 tonnes of carbon dioxide in the UK.

While these initiatives have increased global participation and AdGreen and AdNetZero are beginning to garner global interest and recognition, there is currently no single repository of consolidated global carbon emissions data for the advertising industry.

With increased participation and unfiltered contributions from across the industry, metrics will continue to be refined and industry can harness the power of shared data to avoid repeating missteps.

Efficient and environmentally friendly working options

As the world went into lockdown in 2020 and social and economic activities came to a halt, there was a staggering 6.4% drop in carbon emissions globally. As part of the global drop in carbon emissions, Malaysia, for example, saw a 9.7% decrease in carbon emissions during the pandemic. Surprisingly, even if this reduction were sustained, it would still not be enough to keep us below the 1.5°C cap required to avoid catastrophic impacts, so there is still a lot of work to be done.

With Covid-19 restrictions and lockdowns, the advertising industry has seen how travel costs and overheads have gone down, generating immediate financial savings while delivering significant reductions in carbon emissions. In other words, brands and agencies have had a key period that has pushed marketers to operate more efficiently.

However, as borders begin to reopen, the decrease we have seen in carbon emissions is unlikely to last. This is precisely why the advertising industry, which traditionally involves a lot of travel, needs to think about how it has so far adapted to the pandemic, how that adaptability has reduced carbon emissions and, more importantly, how to build on this momentum.

Workarounds such as remote video villages, home delivery kits for people and technology to support virtual production have all meant that we are now able to do so much more without multiple people having to go. in a remote place. By choosing national filming locations and dividing crews into on-site and remote functions, the shift to sustainability more than pays off.

One of the most exciting developments in the creation of advertising content has come from the gaming and broadcasting industries; the use of game engines such as Unreal (used in Fortnight and Mandalorian) and Unity (Cycles for Walt Disney and Childish Bambino for Media.Monks) and ICVFX/Virtual/Volumetric/LED wall studios to create environments in time real life replaced the need to transport crew, provide logistical support, and build large-scale, usually single-use, expensive sets.

A combination of the above, coupled with increased attention to renewable energy in studios and post-production facilities, will generate both significant and measurable impact.

Development of the roadmap to net zero

The efficiency of production time and resources affects the carbon footprint, and therefore it is important for marketers to rethink their entire production ecosystem, from strategy to execution, in order to achieve sustainable production practices.

At Advertising Production Resources (APR), we work closely with our clients on carbon reduction programs within production. A recent example is the development of a playbook for a global client outlining their goals and providing advice and guidance on how creative partners can support this journey.

Over the past year, we’ve seen how sustainability awareness presentations to our customers and industry globally create an epiphany. Once someone has been awakened to reality, they are instantly propelled into action, which is an added benefit and exactly the reaction we are looking for.

Sustainability in advertising and production is a transformative force that is no longer a “nice to have”. As brands rebuild their operations and sharpen their outlook in the post-pandemic era, it’s critical that agencies and brands think about how they can strengthen identities, appreciate the environment, and build loyal and meaningful relationships. with their audience.

Jonathan Parker is Managing Director (APAC) for APR (Advertising Production Resources).

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