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Advertising takes first steps to lower carbon footprint


A new initiative aims to inspire sustainable ad production across the industry

On a sunny snow field surrounded by mountains  a photo crew ski wear is photographing a man doing press-ups in boxer shorts

‘Zero carbon, zero waste’ for advertising production is the ultimate objective for AdGreen, a new sustainability initiative launched today by the Climate Action Working Group with the support of Unilever, Sky, WPP, Havas, adam&eveDDB, MullenLowe Group as part of IPG, and APR (Advertising Production Resources).

AdGreen hopes to empower the advertising production industry to measure, manage and ultimately reduce its carbon footprint. To do this, AdGreen will develop a carbon footprint calculator tool, specialist training, a renewable energy buy-in scheme and, later, certification and a high-quality offsetting scheme.

“We are determined our industry does everything in its power to respond to the climate emergency. AdGreen will make it possible for anyone producing ads to be confident that they can do it in a way that does not impact the climate – a fundamental change that we have to all make now,” says Stephen Woodford, Chief Executive of the Advertising Association.

Identifying the problem

A film crew is taking a break in a light-filled living room with camera equipment on a low table and a screen on a tripod.

AdGreen aims to help measure, manage and ultimately reduce the carbon footprint of advertising production

The project launches with two main aims: to measure the impact advertising production has on the environment and to identify which activities leave the heaviest carbon footprint.

“Ultimately, AdGreen means everyone producing advertising work will be able to capture and understand their own footprint data; advertisers and advertising agencies will be able to compare that to anonymised benchmarks,” explains Jo Coombes, Founder of AdGreen. “We want to build a future-proofed carbon-literate workforce, giving us the opportunity for the highest creative ambition with the lowest carbon impact.”

Going global

Advertising pollution is a global issue and can only be solved if everyone is committed to making the necessary changes.

Unilever works with hundreds of production suppliers and creative agencies globally, filming in over 60 countries and spending millions of euros annually on global advertising production. In line with Unilever’s wider environmental commitments, its AdPro team have for some time had a sustainability policy in place but needed a common industry approach and tools to effectively reduce emissions.

Setting foundations for a fairer future

A film crew in a studio is setting up a shot of a large screen with floating grey and orange cut-out clouds.

Advertising pollution is a global issue that can only be solved through an industry-wide commitment to change

The AdGreen initiative provides a solution. “The work being done by the UK’s Advertising Association’s Climate Action group shares our objectives, with the benefit of being industry wide. We’re excited to get to work alongside our fellow founding members, to develop a tool that we can use throughout the world when executing Unilever’s advertising production,” says Dana Cadden, Head of Global Advertising Production, Global Marketing Services.

It is an aspiration that is shared by Unilever CEO Alan Jope: “What we do today is make or break. So we’re delighted to join our peers and other leading organisations to launch AdGreen, to push for real change in advertising production. Now is the time to commit to a fairer, zero-carbon world.”

The AdGreen initiative is also supported by the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA), the Advertising Producers Association (APA), the Association of Photographers (AOP) and the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers (ISBA).

Unilever is a member of the UK Advertising Association Climate Action Working Group, which has launched the AdGreen project. Unilever’s EVP & General Manager of the UK & Ireland business, Sebastian Munden, is chair of the UK Advertising Association Climate Action Steering Group.

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