By Craig Borthwick, Partner at Lightblue
Just six weeks ago, world leaders came together at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Much was discussed but it was six words that really struck a chord with me.
“Come with solutions and real actions”.
That was the rallying call from Majid Al Suwaidi, Director General of Cop28 in Dubai – a thinly veiled nod to the stark reality of where we sit against previous climate targets.
Now I’m no world leader or climate change expert but the truth is, it is one of the most pressing issues facing our very existence; it’s everyone’s business and we, as brands and agencies, have the power to lead the change.
In late November, COP28 arrives in the UAE. Let’s take a look at how brands can lead the conversation.
An expectation, not an exception
As brands focus more attention on attracting Gen Z, a notoriously difficult-to-reach and skeptical segment, they would be foolish not to bring their values in this arena to the forefront.
Consumer awareness of sustainability is at an all-time high and rapidly growing as they proactively seek out and appreciate brands with purpose. Not only that, 64% of Gen Z are willing to pay more for products and services which are environmentally friendly; so, the conversation around creating a sustainable brand being overtly expensive is, with proper management, not grounded in reality.
Take a step back and assess brand purpose and circularity of products and services. Making moves to eliminate waste and pollution can be monumental steps.
Transparency in future-proofing
Brands built for the future have the environment as a fundamental part of their foundation and are dedicated to achieving their promises. Take Siemens for example, that has not only more than halved CO2 emissions in the past seven years but also created and utilized its own technology and innovation to enable the brand to hit its climate targets ahead of schedule.
For a long time, some brands have made superficial claims or lacked dedication to achieving their objectives when it comes to the environment. Elsewhere, there are brands that are performing well but fail to integrate it into their comms strategy, thinking that it’s irrelevant. The truth is, it couldn’t be more relevant.
Being open and honest is a powerful way to showcase that you are serious about the environment and that you understand and are responsible for your supply chain. Brands like Adidas even go to the extent of publishing their supplier list.
Create meaningful and powerful storytelling around your efforts in sustainability and integrate it into your comms plan. It’s a story that is dying to be heard at all stakeholder levels.
Empowering our audiences
While we know that our audiences are proactively searching for brands that care, it doesn’t stop there. It’s time to dial it up and create opportunities for customers to be part of the solution.
Brands have used their platforms to showcase how their audiences can utilize their products and services to lead a more eco-friendly lifestyle.
Check out Pinterest’s original content series "Inspire a Better Future," packed with educational content across the likes of beauty, fashion, travel, and wellness. Elsewhere, Patagonia, a pioneering brand in the space, offers an "Option to Repair" initiative for their products, enabling their audience to support the circular economy even further.
Brands can be creative when it comes to activating their brand initiatives and a focus on co-creation and collaboration with audiences is a surefire way to deliver results.
Together we are an ocean
Brands are in a competitive environment, there’s no doubt about it, but this is definitely a time to put differences aside for the greater good.
That’s exactly what luxury corporation Kering did in launching "The Fashion Pact" – a global initiative with climate, biodiversity, and ocean targets. With the backing of over 200 companies outside the group, from Ralph Lauren and Hermes to H&M and Farfetch, it shows that brands that genuinely care will remove previously regarded boundaries in pursuit of innovation and purpose.
Take the opportunity to seek out opportunities to invest in established movements or consider offsetting with not-for-profits already operating in the space. Together we can always achieve more.
Cop28 is on the horizon, but it doesn’t need to begin there and absolutely should not end there. Brands must regard the environment as a key pillar of their business, communicating this at every opportunity with authenticity and not a marketing ploy. If you are not already embracing it, it’s time to do so or risk being left behind.