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Purpose Disruptors: Ad Industry Must Rapidly Transform for the Climate

Ahead of their return to the UN climate conference at COP27, the group of ex-industry leaders calls for advertising to supercharge progress towards transformation as its emissions look set to grow in 2022

Purpose Disruptors: Ad Industry Must Rapidly Transform for the Climate

Purpose Disruptors, the organisation founded by ex industry leaders on a mission to catalyse the advertising industry’s climate transition, call on the advertising industry to supercharge progress towards transformation, urgently needed as highlighted by three major climate reports published last week.

Purpose Disruptors return to the global stage at COP27 on the 14th of November. One year on from COP26 in Glasgow, where they launched the Good Life 2030 project, premiering the world's first short documentary highlighting the relationship between advertising and the climate crisis and showcased groundbreaking ‘ads from the future’ with three award-winning agencies. They also launched their landmark Advertised Emissions report, which introduced a new metric for measuring the emissions generated as a result of the uplift of sales in advertising, which calculated advertising added an extra 28% to the annual carbon footprint of every single person in the country. 

This year, in Sharm El-Sheikh, they will share a vital message - the industry must increase the speed and scale of its climate transition. The results of their new Advertised Emissions report will outline the lion's share of the industry's contribution to carbon emissions; its 'Advertised Emissions'' did not decline in 2021, and is set to rise in 2022. Purpose Disruptors will be previewing key headlines of the report at the climate conference, ahead of the full report release on the 22nd of November.

The forecasted rise in emissions is directly at odds with what the latest climate reports state is necessary for a safe and livable future. A series of sobering reports released last week from the UNEP and the UNFCCC assessed climate progress ahead of COP27. The reports outlined we are not on track to keep global warming within a 1.5C temperature rise, a critical goal set by the IPCC. Global emissions need to decline 46% by 2030, but instead they are set to rise by 10%. There is currently “no credible pathway to 1.5C in place” and that “woefully inadequate” progress on cutting carbon emissions means the only way to limit the worst impacts of the climate crisis is a “rapid transformation of societies.”

Purpose Disruptors have been instrumental in spearheading progress within the industry to reconsider what a rapid transformation of the industry could be, and how the industry could transform to be in service of society. 

In a continuation of work as part of the Good Life project, Purpose Disruptors have engaged over 100 industry leaders from leading agencies including Havas, Wieden + Kennedy, MediaCom, Mindshare, Mother, adam&eveDDB in workshops to reconsider the role of advertising. Leaders themselves have identified what paradigm shifts we need to see in our industry to bring about change, including:
  • Reappraising advertisers’ perception of the audience - from consumers to citizens
  • Reconsidering agency stakeholders, from corporate clients to people and planet
  • Reframing the stories that they put into the world, from stories of separation to stories of interconnectedness. 

Further essential work is being undertaken to help the industry support a thriving future including upskilling the entire advertising, marketing and media workforce to learn how to promote more sustainable choices and behaviours via every channel available to them. Purpose Disruptors' Change The Brief Alliance has made great progress in achieving this. The programme now includes 5,000 members from 50 agencies. With representation from four of the 'big six' major networks including Havas, Omnicom, IPG and WPP and agencies from beyond the UK, with 180 Amsterdam and Mindshare Denmark onboard. 

Finally, vital progress is being made amongst a range of industry actors, to address what can be done to reduce Advertised Emissions. Purpose Disruptors have convened a working group of 29 industry leaders across 17 organisations including brands, agencies and media owners to co-create the methodology to help agencies overcome this existential challenge, with participants from The Guardian, JCDecaux, Iris, M&C Saatchi, Global, Havas Group, Yahoo, Mediacom.

All examples of change on the ground demonstrate transformation in the industry is taking place but the industry must ramp up action. This includes reskilling the entire workforce on climate, reimagining what an alternative future of the industry looks like, and measuring and reducing the full impact of our Advertised Emissions. This is the definitive moment for change.

Rob McFaul, co-founder of Purpose Disruptors says: “It’s easy to get despondent about the climate crisis but an important idea to hold onto is that the future is something that we can actively create through every action we take. We live in a unique moment in history where we can choose to direct our creativity and talent to be in service of a thriving future. Through all our work, we see many in the industry want to step into the level of transformation that is required to bring that future into being. Now is that moment.”

Lisa Merrick-Lawless, co-founder of Purpose Disruptors says: “We need to harness the imagination and creativity of the industry to create a new vision of a good life for the future that we can move towards today. Our industry drives desire, it creates culture and shifts society. This is the brief of a lifetime, a huge opportunity for our industry to lead the way and help transform society for a thriving future.”

Jonathan Wise, co-founder of Purpose Disruptors says: “The uncomfortable truth is that if you work in advertising, the better you do your job, the more damage you cause. This is because advertising drives consumption and consumption drives carbon emissions. As free-thinkers, agency employees have to ask themselves this question: What do I want to be in service to? If you want to be in service of a thriving sustainable future, we invite you to join the initiatives we have created. The change needed is dramatic. Is the industry capable of stepping into its highest possibility to help transform itself and the society it influences? We hope so.”


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LBB Editorial, Mon, 07 Nov 2022 11:00:15 GMT