( Seven minute read)
It is crystal clear that consumption is a major donator to the problems of both the environment and all of us are now facing. There is consistent evidence that exposure to marketing for unhealthy commodities – for example advertising for alcohol or food and drinks high in fat, salt, or sugar – is associated with consumption, including among children and young people.
To confront the climate emergency, the amount we consume needs to drop dramatically. Yet every day we’re told by the advertising industry to consume more.
The purpose of advertising is to boost revenue, gain an advantage over competitors, and build brand awareness, so it latch on to what ever is topical – Climate change – Energy – Sustainability – Cost of living etc.
Now with technology it has billion-dollar persuasion machines, promoting not quality of life but rather quantity of stuff.
It’s woven into our personal communications whenever we use social media platforms. In public spaces, where we have little choice over where we look, adverts are invasive, appearing without our consent, with the trend towards digital billboards only exposes us ever more.
Its so prevalent as to be invisible but with an effect no less insidious than air pollution.
We all have a role to play — from making sustainable choices to help safeguard the ocean and our environment, to urging world and business leaders to take the urgent, widespread, and ambitious action needed to tackle climate change and protect the planet.
This is an industry capable of quickly shifting global public opinion, with the power to change hearts, minds and behaviour resulting in action, potentially on a global scale and also with profound and rapid effect.
It must be made to take responsibility for consumption, instead of continuing to drive the high carbon lifestyles and hyper-consumption that is killing us.
If we were to introduce new laws restricting marketing agencies from taking work from clients who aren’t actively reducing their own contributions to climate change, earning money from high carbon clients, the sort of companies from whom the investment community is increasingly divesting; promoting unnecessary and over-consumption, these companies would eventually be forced to match their green advertising slogans with real green investment.
The questions for the advertising industry would become what are our obligations to tackle climate change i.e. how might we have contributed to climate change and how do we stop doing so, and what are our opportunities i.e. where can we make a positive contribution to the issue?
What other than laws will forced it to rethink their strategies so the industry will go through a transition period, to discover a purpose beyond profit?
In fact, many would argue that the move to “doing well by doing good” will only become truly mainstream when the corporate social responsibility agenda and the growth agenda become one and the same.
There is no reason that governments could not introduce restricted areas and venues where the advertising of consumption is not allowed.
For example: Sporting events, Natural Reserves/ Public Park’s, Billboards and bus stops, Out door digital advertising.
We could stop television programming being sponsored by consumption – Eat now.
Of course in a free society, businesses have the right to advertise their wares, and individual citizens are not the helpless brainless automatons that advertising industry’s considers them to be.
All advertising plays a crucial role in brand competition, drives product innovation, and fuels economic growth but would we not rather see community ads and art than have multi-billion companies putting logos and images everywhere?
If they are allowed to get the message out, the public has a right to reply to those ads.
We don’t want our city’s children bombarded with animated advertising on TV screens in the street.
Critically, the more that people prioritise materialistic values and goals, the less they embrace positive attitudes towards the environment – and the more likely they are to behave in damaging ways. If you think this is a fanciful aim, then you might need to think again with the state the world is in.
We’re in a place where major behaviour change is required.
To question the legitimacy of corporate outdoor adverting and draw attention to the impact they can have on social issues, mental health, wellbeing, the climate, and the communication of public space where governments are too inert/broke/ill-intentioned/in thrall to vested interests to take effective action.
Business leaders must increasingly look beyond short-term profitability to address the pressing need to reduce emissions.
.The advertising industry is in a very different place to where it was a year ago.
Where, how, and when you advertise will constantly change with the times. That’s one thing we can count on.
Culture has always defined marketing and brand marketers have a lot of power to dictate.
The rise of the internet, computers, and mobile devices only provided more platforms for video ads to appear. It’s probably still going to be one of the most important advertising trends in the next 5 years.
We have our hands on the levers of behaviour change, but in an era in which attention is often only ever partial, puncturing the collective consumer inertia with a complex message is no easy feat.
We spend every day thinking of ways to change people’s behaviours,
These skills are the ones needed more than ever by the world to halt the human causes of climate change.
Advertising has always evolved with the technology at hand. This includes tracking of clicked links, customer behaviour, purchase history, survey responses, and more.
Marketers can then use that information to create custom messages or content that’ll match the target audiences’ interests.
Finding out which people to show a particular ad to and the right time to show them is crucial in the world of smartphones
Next step, profit.
In a cut-throat and viciously competitive market, pioneering new technology can have a major impact on the effectiveness of advertising campaigns.
Another big use of mobile advertising is through games.
A lot of mobile games are created with the format of being able to purchase resources with real-world money.
This means that ads will now be geared towards targeting real people through emails and other registered user data. With more information available, marketers can provide customers with a better offer that’ll most likely translate into sales.
Social advertising is the use of Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media platforms for advertising potentials.
The format itself is undergoing rapid transformation because most people watch for content and not for production quality.
Data collection and cookies naturally have poor public perception, often being viewed as encroaching on private information and stealing data, with ads following consumers around the internet.
Now, these apps aren’t just for sending messages and emoji cause it’s also a place to find advertisements relevant to users.
As the climate crisis bites
We need new metrics and measurement tools – and new bonus and remuneration systems to underpin our value systems, not just legislation against high-carbon advertising, focusing on fossil fuel companies, petrol- and diesel-engine cars and aviation.
Because, marketing has been transformed by digital speed, relevance and reach of advertising campaigns.
Because, overconsumption in general, encouraged by advertising, has a climate and ecological impact.
Because, programmatic advertising uses AI to automatically buy ads that can target audiences more specifically. ( Programmatic advertising is a combination of big data processing, technical skills, and automation.)
Because, advertising works by getting under your radar, introducing new ideas without bothering your conscious mind.
Because, contextual advertising is a form of targeted advertising where site content and keywords are analyzed in real time to determine their suitability for a brand’s message.
Because, children are now at the mercy of so-called “surveillance advertising”. It is estimated that by the time a child turns 13, ad-tech firms would have gathered 72m data points on them. The more data collected from an early age, the easier it is for advertisers to turn young children into consumer targets.
A transformation of marketing is underway as we spend more time on our mobiles, tablets and laptops. The real-time conversations brands have with people as they interact with websites and mobile apps has changed the nature of marketing
We know that advertising is a key engine of the economy. There are visual images and marketing messages that have insinuated themselves into the nervous systems of humans.
There’s a long way to go and a lot to be done. The ad business, with strategy tools and processes that were for the most part developed in the 60s to accommodate the advent of commercial TV, is a lot closer to where it started the journey than where it needs to get to.
Let’s create a movement and band together to save the planet in a non-branded or political way.
New checks and balances need to accommodate the natural concerns of councils and residents around climate, air pollution, environmental light pollution, the “attention economy”, mental health and the dominance of non-consensual adverts in public spaces.
I’m sure most advertisers and agencies would rather work on solving this global crisis, and if we can use just 5% of the industry’s time toward this initiative.
It isn’t clickbait that is needed but a genuine concern for the fate of the planet or a cynical hunch that doing the right thing will drive growth and profit – if the improved behaviour is real.
I believe that would lead to greater satisfaction, retention and more.
Break the Silence and comment.
All human comments appreciated. All like clicks and abuse chucked in the bin.