It is not the advertising itself that generates the most pollution, but rather what it promotes. Indeed, it will have the indirect effect of increasing sales of the products and services put forward. And promoting the sale of a bike versus that of an internal combustion car will have very different environmental impacts. The majority of its carbon footprint therefore comes from scope 3 (i.e. indirect effects). It is the main source of pollution in the sector. Moreover, at GiveActions, we are of the opinion that advertising for the most hyper-polluting products (fossil fuels, aviation, etc.) as well as those with a far too negative social impact (child labor, etc.) should be prohibited.
To take a rest is to go to the other end of the world by plane for a few days or a week. To be a man, you have to eat meat and drink beer. These two examples are ideals conveyed by advertising that are for the most part contrary to the ecological transition. Through the great visibility it provides, advertising makes it possible to create social imaginaries. Through the images they send back, she manipulates our desires, our perceptions and creates needs for us. Brands' communication through ads can even be misleading. An example of a well-known deception is greenwashing, which is used by some advertisers.
Like any sector, marketing pollutes. By the means used to produce content (trips to film plans, purchase of equipment,...), by the energy required to broadcast advertisements or even by the construction of advertising spaces (advertising panels, devices,...). There are many techniques to reduce this impact, but beware, reducing the direct carbon impact should be the last step in the sector's impact strategies. And this is because in terms of order of magnitude, it is only in 3rd place. The two other elements mentioned above indirectly generate more “pollutant” than this one. However, today, the sector is only focused on this point. Yes, it is good to reduce it, but it is essential to act on the first two points to change the sector as a whole and ensure that it becomes compatible with the ecological transition.
Advertising could be a lever to accelerate the ecological transition, because it can change representations and encourage the modification of purchasing behaviors towards goods and services that are more environmentally and socially virtuous, but it is also a source of pollution and waste when it is broadcast massively and without agreement.
We define the actors with whom we can work based on their ecological and social impact. To do this, we have created non-exhaustive lists of refused and eligible activities. If a company carries out a so-called “refused” activity, we will not work with them. Then, the campaign must have a positive impact by highlighting an “eligible” activity. For more complex cases, we can also call on our independent committee. More info hither.
We will ensure that there are no messages that are contrary to the ecological transition or contain greenwashing (or any type of washing). Indeed, we have developed a wealth of expertise on the subject of greenwashing and we are making it available to our partners. If necessary, we suggest changing the message or adding details as we did with BackMarket, an eshop for refurbished electronic devices, with the phrase “Switch to refurbished but only if you need to buy” added at the end of the spot, in order to highlight a message of sobriety.
When an advertising video has to be created, the main impact comes from transport and the capture of new rush. So we use existing content (old shoots, photos, etc.) that we rework with animations to create a brand new video. A good way to reduce the impact of content creation.
We take into account the ecological impact of channels in our media recommendation. For example, when possible and relevant, we encourage the use of audio rather than video.
We believe it is essential to make our partners aware of the carbon impact of the advertising channels used. We therefore provide an explanatory graph for any marketing campaign proposal. It shows the overall carbon impact of the campaign as well as the share of each channel used.
Various techniques can be used to reduce the impact of advertising. Shorten the video, adapt the video format according to the device (in order not to use a high quality video on a smartphone), target WiFi rather than 4G as a priority. An interesting study by Fifty Five shows the impact of certain measures on the carbon impact of video broadcasting. Discover the results hither.
We are very active in denouncing any case of greenwashing, but also in training the sector as well as students or citizens. In fact, we regularly give conferences at universities such as IHECS, at events and even at agencies or advertising agencies.
We make every effort to build websites that are as low-emission as possible. The advantage is that a lighter website is also much faster and therefore more efficient and rewarded in SEO.
A better world is a world where mass advertising does not exist, or at least very little. Although it can serve as an accelerator of the transition, advertising is directly linked to overconsumption. Responsible communication can lead to sudden changes in the way we live, but it will never prevent the primary purpose of marketing, which is to sell. Our job is therefore to use this tool wisely to accelerate the arrival of appropriate behaviors with the transition, but we know the limits of the environment. Moreover, even as we do our best to reduce our carbon footprint, we continue to generate carbon footprints. Marketing, regardless of the channel, generates pollution. We also favor the results of the carbon footprint of the channels used, because we consider it more important to highlight good initiatives than not to pass on these positive messages and therefore not to change behaviors. So sometimes we have to make a choice in the impact itself. But rest assured that we are working to improve our daily practices and to push the sector to move. To improve day after day, until advertising becomes more compatible with the ecological transition.