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Advertising leaders set pathway to net zero industry worldwide

Leaders from many of the largest companies and associations in the world’s advertising industry have announced their intent to apply learning from the UK and plan the roll out of Ad Net Zero.

Advertising leaders set pathway to net zero industry worldwide
The new Ad Net Zero group at Cannes Lions.

The world’s major advertising agency holding companies, dentsu international, Havas, Interpublic Group, Omnicom, Publicis Groupe and WPP, along with Unilever – one of the world’s largest advertisers, global tech companies, Google and Meta, plus European media company Sky, will be supported by US trade bodies, ANA, 4A’s and the IAB, the WFA representing global advertisers, European and global agency associations, EACA and Voxcomm, and the IAA to extend the Ad Net Zero programme from the UK to other major advertising markets. Ascential, owners of LIONS, has played a major role in convening this international action to tackle the climate emergency. The group has issued an invitation to more organisations with international reach to join and help support the plans for the roll-out.

The Ad Net Zero programme was launched in the UK in November 2020 by the Advertising Association, ISBA and the IPA and counts over 100 advertisers, agencies, commercial media owners and production companies in its membership. All the partners in the global coalition are supporters in the UK and are committed to build plans to extend Ad Net Zero into other major markets. The focus of the new Ad Net Zero group will be to rapidly establish plans for roll-out in major advertising markets with immediate focus on the US and the EU, working in partnership with the UK team. The next update will be presented at the Ad Net Zero Global Summit which will take place online on November 9 and 10, alongside COP27. Going forward, progress will be shared and discussed at Cannes Lions each summer and the Global Summit each November, in line with the COP event, to maintain momentum during this critical decade.

The Ad Net Zero 5-point action plan pledges to reduce the carbon emissions from UK advertising operations to net zero by 2030, with businesses committing to robust, verified plans to reduce their emissions. It also pledges to use the power of advertising to accelerate the switch to more sustainable products and services for consumers. The UK programme provides a roadmap for development in other markets, with the flexibility to adapt and develop-market specific solutions. It offers tools readily available internationally, like the AdGreen carbon calculator to help to measure and reduce emissions from advertising production.

Phil Thomas, chairman of Lions, said: “The Advertising Association in the UK have worked tirelessly to create Ad Net Zero, which has huge support from the UK industry, and we are delighted to partner with them to bring this critical initiative to Cannes Lions in order to gather together global players to commit to its simple but powerful aim: of all ads being net zero by 2030. Nothing could be more important for our industry.”

Aline Santos, chief brand officer, and chief equity, diversity & inclusion officer, Unilever said: “Unilever is committed to reducing emissions to zero within our own operations by 2030 and to net zero across our value chain by 2039, with the first priority being to reduce emissions in line with the 1.5 degree ambition of the Paris Agreement. Everything our brands do, and that our partners do on behalf of our brands, needs to be totally consistent with this aim. As a founding member of Ad Net Zero in the UK, we look forward to the opportunity to apply the learnings and best practices from the UK pilot to shape its global roll out with the wider industry.”

Anna Lungley, chief sustainability officer, dentsu international, said: “The potential of our industry for positive social impact should not be underestimated. The net zero transition is dependent upon human behaviour change. We know how to create culture, shape society and inspire people to unique ways of living. To succeed we need to harness our collective talent, diverse perspectives and creativity to invent the future. At dentsu we are proud to be one of the first companies in the world with an approved net zero target. Ad Net Zero brings the industry together with a collective ambition, the platforms to share best practice and ideas, and a roadmap for change.”

Yannick Bolloré, chairman & ceo, Havas Group, said: “I have always believed that as a communications group, we have a major role to play in making the world we live in a better place, through the power of our creative ideas and the influence of our campaigns. I’m thrilled to see that more and more people are aware of the environmental issues we all face and are calling for a profound change in society. With our CSR program Havas Impact+, we have set ourselves ambitious goals in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the way we produce our campaigns and committing to collaborative efforts in reducing climate change. We are fully aligned with Ad Net Zero, as it encourages our industry to practice responsible communication, raise professional standards and help our clients become a force for good.”

Jemma Gould, vice president, sustainability & communications, IPG, said: “As we look at our impact on the world in terms of environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, the work we produce and how we produce it is an important measure of our progress. As marketers, we have a special role to play in terms of our impact, because of the global reach of our work. From this perspective, we need to ensure equity in terms of our process, we need to understand our impact on the environment, and we need to be sensitive to the messages we create and what they convey. Working with organizations like Ad Net Zero is a great way to realize our climate goals and to work toward net zero as an industry and we are proud of this partnership.”

Karen van Bergen, chief environmental sustainability officer, Omnicom Group, said: “Our industry plays a critical role in making the world a better place and Omnicom is proud to join its peers in an initiative that is working towards a more sustainable future for generations to come. Ad Net Zero is providing an opportunity to protect our planet through advertising and communications, and it’s imperative that we act now to set an example and be part of the solution. We will continue to invest in our sustainability goals and collective efforts that bring us closer to the future we want to see and the progress we have committed to.”

Carla Serrano, global cso of Publicis Groupe, said: “We at Publicis Groupe started our sustainability journey 20 years ago by joining the UN Global Compact and designing our long-term environmental trajectory. Our objectives for 2030 are aligned with the Paris Agreement and validated by SBTi1, which is why we will reach carbon neutrality before 2030. In 2022, we scaled A.L.I.C.E2 - our existing proprietary tool – globally, helping to reduce climate impact of campaigns for our clients by 20% to 50% to date. We hope to inspire others to accelerate their timeframe because we all know climate change won't wait. We are proud to join Ad Net Zero and look forward to realising the goals together as an industry through this partnership.”

Lindsay Pattison, chief client officer at WPP, said: “WPP has been actively reducing the carbon emissions produced by our operations since 2006 and we’re proud to have been a founding member of Ad Net Zero in the UK. In 2021 we set an industry-leading commitment to become net zero across our business by 2025 and across our entire supply chain by 2030, which includes the emissions associated with the advertising we place. We know that in order to achieve this rate of carbon reduction we need collaboration, and together with our clients and media partners we’re helping to drive change across our industry.”

Lorraine Twohill, chief marketing officer, Google, said: "At Google, our goal is to achieve net zero emissions across all of our operations and value chain by 2030. We look forward to working with our Ad Net Zero partners, customers and the industry to share best practices to help accelerate the decarbonization of the advertising ecosystem globally.”

Arielle Gross Samuels, esg leader, Meta, said: “Sustainability is a non-negotiable to future-proof our planet and enable thriving communities over the long-term. Meta is proud to support the global expansion of Ad Net Zero, building off of our involvement in the inaugural UK chapter. We hope the advertising industry joins us in accelerating actions that promote decarbonization.”

Debbie Klein, group chief marketing, corporate affairs & people officer said “Sky is proud to be a founding member of AdGreen in the UK, and our ambitious target to achieve net zero by 2030 sits right at the heart of our business. It is only through transformational change that we’ll achieve net zero together, and our industry must come together on a global scale to tackle the urgent climate crisis.”

Bob Liodice, ceo, ANA, said: “Reducing carbon emissions in our industry is central to addressing one of the biggest challenges we face as a marketing community. The ANA is proud to participate in Ad Net Zero and will vigorously support its global ambition to promote the development of sustainable products and services through advertising and marketing.”

Marla Kaplowitz, president and ceo of the 4A’s, said: “Agencies have the responsibility to stay ahead of issues and trends impacting the industry like sustainability not just for internal purposes, but to help influence the brands they support. From responding to the climate crisis to infusing creative solutions that highlights sustainable commerce — agencies are partnering with brands now more than ever to help them navigate as well as educate and expand the understanding of what this means and what we can do to support. Initiatives like Ad Net Zero help set the standard for where we need to take our focus with the industry in the U.S.”

David Cohen, chief executive, IAB, said: “Perspective is everything. There is nothing more important than the health of our planet and the legacy that we leave the generations that follow us. IAB and its members fully support the AdNet Zero initiative and look forward to working with the industry to bring sustainability to the forefront of the digital marketing ecosystem.”

Stephan Loerke, ceo, World Federation of Advertisers (WFA), said: “Climate change is the defining issue of our age not just for the ad industry but for society at large. Marketers have a key role to play in persuading consumers to adopt behaviours that lead to a more sustainable future. The international launch of Ad Net Zero is a crucial first step in terms of getting our own house in order and ensuring its own operations go net zero. It perfectly complements the WFA Planet Pledge, which provides a framework for marketers to lead in driving consumer behaviour change.”

Tamara Daltroff, Voxcomm president and director general, EACA, said: “Ever since the Ad Net Zero programme was launched in the UK, it became obvious that a well-crafted plan and comprehensive guidelines can bring all the industry stakeholders on the same page. Rolling out a global version of the initiative was the next logical step, well received by EACA and VoxComm members who are invested and keen to work on this important topic across their local markets. As advocates for a sustainable industry, agencies are very well acquainted with the increasing demand for change from consumers and the political scene. Equipped with the Ad Net Zero principles, agencies will find these rough seas more navigable and, regardless of where they are located, bring value to the initiative and its ultimate ambition.”

Joel E. Nettey, world president and chairman, International Advertising Association (IAA), said: “The International Advertising Association recognizes the importance of protecting the world from the effect of carbon emissions and is committed to collaborate with all industry players and leverage our global network to help support the roll out of Ad Net Zero across geographies and industry sectors. Together we can make a greater impact in protecting our planet.”

Dagmara Szulce, managing director, International Advertising Association (IAA), said: "Our industry is more capable than any other to help move minds and behaviours in a more sustainable direction, but we only achieve this if we all stand and act together."

The global advertising industry, as measured by advertising media investment, was worth $594,322bn in 2020. The top 20 advertising markets account for 89.3% of this spend and these markets will be the focus for the rollout of the programme following the US and Europe.

Ad Net Zero received a WFA President’s Award at Global Marketer Week in Athens earlier this year, in recognition of the cross-industry collaboration to drive essential operational change. The global roll-out follows formation of the first international chapter of Ad Net Zero in Ireland, led by the country’s trade association, the Institute of Advertising Practitioners in Ireland (IAPI).

The second Ad Net Zero Global Summit will take place on November 9-10 as an online event, free to attend for all advertising professionals from around the world. The summit’s agenda will cover the progress being made on the implementation of Ad Net Zero and the challenges to be tackled by the world’s advertising community.