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Ideas Climate Change2021-05-24

Earth Day 2021: 20 Creative Agencies Take Action to Fight Climate Change

Susanna Pitts

What does sustainability and climate change mean to you?

Sustainability and climate change go hand in hand. If you accept the simple definition of sustainability as the ‘meeting of our own needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’ (UN World Commission) in relation to social equity, economic and environmental concerns, then you are better able to understand that these are interconnected.

We can’t fully solve climate change without addressing the social and economic reasons behind things like deforestation, pollution etc… and vice versa. Climate Change disproportionately impacts those most in need which means those in a privileged position to address it need to focus on it now if we want to secure a better future for everyone. If we can address climate change in a conscientious way, we will then have the space and time to focus on driving social and economic sustainability too.

Do you think the new media has the power to change the minds of people who don’t believe in the environmental crisis?

Yes - definitely. The communications industry has the power to influence and change people’s minds and has been doing so for decades. People spend most of their waking lives online now and can be heavily influenced by what they see or hear on social and on news sites. But while new media is powerful, it can only do so much - the messages need to be right to change hearts and minds and that is where good marketers come in. Agencies and brands have a role to play in helping tell the right stories in ways that engage to drive sustainable behavior change.

Please tell us a few actions that creative agencies can start doing to be more sustainable.

Firstly, agencies need to buy into the view that sustainability is everyone's responsibility - it is not just an operations thing any more. With this in mind, my top three would be; - Partner with your clients’ sustainability teams so that their marketing reflects their own sustainability values. - Avoid greenwashing by asking the right questions and understanding your clients’ long term aims. - Role model environmentally sustainable behaviors by signing up to and following green production standards as set out by AdGreen and Adnet Zero.

How politics and governments are encouraging eco-friendly behaviour in your country?

The UK government has taken steps to commit to some reduction in carbon emissions and reducing things harmful to the environment, such as plastics in their 25 year environment plan, but it is not enough. The UK is hosting COP26 in November, and I hope that the policies decided upon will be bold and will influence and inspire policy across a wider group of countries.

Are you hopeful that humans can change things? Or do you believe it's too late?

We have to live in hope- it can be a great catalyst for change and inspire solutions we’d have never thought of otherwise, so let’s hang on to that! Habits can always be changed, but it does take time. It needs everyone to come together - governments, businesses and individuals - to make change easier to embrace.

This interview with Susanna Pitts SVP, Head of Product Strategy Management at Essence was published in the Top Interactive Agencies (TIA) Earth Day 2021 report - which you can read in full here.