How Does Sustainability Impact Media Selection (2)

How Does Sustainability Impact Media Selection?

Exploring the Influence of Brands.

The JCDecaux UK study sparks a new discussion on how to use media choice to advance sustainable goals.

Sustainability refers to the practice of meeting our present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It includes making decisions responsibly and equitably while taking into account economic, environmental, and social factors. Sustainability seeks to establish a peaceful coexistence between people and the environment, assuring a brighter future for all. It does this through supporting resource conservation, environmental protection, and social fairness.

In a delightful evening setting, Campaign and JCDecaux UK orchestrated a gathering of esteemed senior marketers, agencies, out-of-home specialists, and media owners. The event, which was held amidst London’s picturesque Petersham Nurseries, offered the chance to learn more about the results of ground-breaking research done by JCDecaux UK. The study dives into the viewpoints of 200 marketers to illuminate their sustainability philosophies.

Exciting revelations are on the horizon as the full results of the expert report, to be published in Campaign at the end of June, are eagerly anticipated. The vibrant conversation around the table during this gathering reflects the remarkable level of engagement advertisers have when it comes to sustainability. Their thirst for knowledge and information in this ever-evolving realm is palpable.

The discussion gave an intriguing glimpse into the mindset surrounding sustainability and the sense of obligation that businesses have in this rapidly evolving field. Incorporating free Wi-Fi and air quality gauges into settings, as well as distributing 200 defibrillators across the UK, according to Chris Dooley, head of social impact at JCDecaux, the outdoor media owner’s commitment to “giving back” is ingrained in its DNA.

He also said “We give back to the community in ways that people do not realize, including 50p in every £1 that we share with our landlord partners,”

He is correct: brands at the dinner discussion were curious to learn more and had limited knowledge about this. Including agencies. Dan Plant, chief strategy officer of Starcom, said, “50p in the £1 is what’s got me the most excited today,”

The group came to the conclusion that while there has been more discussion about sustainability recently and the topic has transitioned from being a niche to a mainstream problem, not everyone is at the same stage of their journey. The lack of knowledge and measurement was perceived as a significant hurdle to driving change in sustainability practices. However, the use of calculators was viewed as a limited solution, as they aimed to condense the multifaceted aspects of ESG (environmental, social, and governance) sustainability into a single carbonization number. This approach was deemed unrealistic and oversimplified.

Without giving away too much before to the report’s release, it poses the question, “Should sustainability influence media choice?” Here is a sample of what was spoken about.

An overview of the conversation:

-For measurability

In summary, when it comes to claims about sustainability, there is both a clear passion among marketers for the environment and impressive progress made, but also a level of confusion. So, in essence, the question is: Whom or what should we trust regarding sustainability claims?

Georgina Bramall (marketing strategy director at Giff Gaf) said that “It’s hard to measure and bring tangibility back to the business. A more solid measurement framework is needed,

Dan Plant, chief strategy officer at Starcom, concurred, “The econometrics aren’t up to it.” One marketer bemoaned, “There’s too much information; we don’t know what’s true or real.”

According to EON’s Somerville, the problem transcends the moral imperative in the end. To ensure that their marketing is successful, marketers need data, so it’s critical for the sector to cooperate. “It’ll be a slow march but we’ll get there – when consumer awareness and action forces us.”

Not a Number

Some people believed that the obsession with carbon calculators missed the point because ESG cannot be reduced to a single figure, said to Sophie Pemberton, global chief strategy officer of OOH specialist Talon.

“Bringing it back to carbon calculators and one number doesn’t do it any justice, but clients do want those numbers to compare – it’s insane.”

With the current rather crude tools at hand, it can be difficult to make a judgement on matters like diversity or social inclusiveness because the discussion is growing more nuanced.

In addition – “I never knew any of this information existed,” a marketer acknowledged. “Calculators are contradictory and there’s too much information around. I would have expected our top [media] partner to have told us about it.”

-Change is needed

Despite the urgent clamour for fast change, there are doubts about how quickly the industry can undergo real, significant change. Even though it is not frequently acknowledged, media plays a crucial role in the supply chain and will eventually be required by law to fulfil net zero goals. It is critical to recognize this. Therefore, it is not a choice to become complacent.

But according to Ollie Joyce, the global chief transformation officer at Mindshare, it will take two to three years before budgets start to change noticeably. To give the shift enough time, brands could proactively enquire about sustainability issues in the interim. Somerville insisted that the moment to start making changes is right now.

-Cultural Evolution

Sustainability must be thoroughly ingrained inside an organization, just like any big transition, with active participation from all parties. “Sustainability doesn’t sit within marketing, it’s normally someone reporting to the CEO,” Acknowledged Jawad Safdar, growth marketing director, international at Wex Inc. “Most marketers aren’t educated in any of this.”

Bramall added- “It’s not a department but part of the business culture,” The B Corp designation has made sustainability everyone’s responsibility at Giffgaff.

There are still concerns about who is accountable for ESG, but a broader acceptance of the topic and its integration into corporate culture as opposed to silos can only be beneficial.

Key Takeaways:

“The key messages have landed but we need to think what else we need to do to ensure that we share knowledge with each other in a clear and easy way” – Nicole Lonsdale, chief client officer, Kinetic.

“It’s always going to come down to effectiveness so if there’s a way of feeding the importance of sustainability and ESG into the econometrics then it can start to affect high level decision making”
– Pia Kingan, media strategy director, Sky.  

“Until ESG matters to the majority of our audience or is regulated, brands won’t really make decisions based on it” – Jawad Safdar, growth marketing director, international, WEX Inc.  

“Carbon and environmental impact are really tough to figure out. Think about media and its impact on the world around more broadly and how OOH contributes to the ecosystem. There are media that do and media that don’t and as an industry we should be focusing on the media that puts value back in rather than extracts it” – Dan Plant, chief strategy officer, Starcom.  

“People would not have had these conversations a few years ago, but we need to do more to make brands informed about what we do around sustainability. I hope we reach a tipping point where calculators do what we need them to do” – Chris Dooley, head of social impact, JCDecaux.  
“There is a clear passion about this space which inspires you to be louder and push the key decision makers more and be more vocal to get action off the ground” – James Thompson, executive director, Manning Gottlieb OMD.  

“There’s a lot of comfort that this is becoming a common conversation now and not a couple of us in a cupboard. But we need to watch that it doesn’t just become a conversation among ourselves and that it includes the customers” – Scott Somerville, chief marketing officer, EON.  

“It will take transparency and standardization of information to allow us to justify change”
– Ollie Joyce, global chief transformation officer, Mindshare.  

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