Source: Canva (The Carlos Gutierrez Collection), Credit: Carlos Gutierrez

Earth Day 2022: Invest in our planet

Marketing's role in creating a sustainable future

Marketing Leaders have a significant part to play in promoting and driving sustainability, and it is now more important than ever for brands to communicate, stand up and follow through on the promises they make. 

We've picked out five Think Pieces from across our community to guide you when it comes to marketing and sustainability. 

Marketing's role in creating a sustainable future, Peter Bardell

Over the years, the responsibility for taking action on sustainability and reducing CO2 emissions has been passed between three groups: the public, businesses and governments. Increasingly informed and empowered, more people than ever are willing to take personal action and have great expectations of what companies need to do.

So, how should companies approach sustainability and move to action?

Sustainability has to be about optimism. Too much of the talk on sustainability is about the symptoms of its absence. And that optimism should be driven by innovation. Forward-thinking companies need to embrace innovation to deliver what consumers need without harming their future. 

At a very basic level, sustainability is less inputs for more output. Innovation is critical in driving this, but it must be done in combination with reduction. In order to be more sustainable and to meet CO2 emission targets, companies have to assess how best to combine innovation and reduction as part of a long term plan. There may be pressures to reduce in the short term, but innovation is better for the long term

Sharing, storytelling and starting inside, Ant Cox

All businesses should be talking about how to better balance profit against more people- and planet-positive behaviours.

What should be on the minds of leaders and influencers, in order to develop stronger, more effective sustainability engagement?

  • Make it a shared agenda 
  • Build a coherent platform for sustainability storytelling
  • Think and grow the story from the inside out
  • See it as an all-action journey
  • Make it an open platform

You need to treat sustainability like your life depends on it, Robin Gadsby

Sustainability will no longer be an outlier in its own department, something that companies think they should invest in (because it looks good), but don’t really support. It will be at the core of what a business is. For every business, anywhere in the supply chain.

It is now vitally important to have the right culture (Mindset) where everyone is on the same page and believes in the purpose of the organisation and is able to see how they play their part, the right people (Skillset) being hired from different backgrounds and diverse cultures, helping improve choices, and the right tools (Toolset) - using technology to help people be more efficient with their time and learn from each other can lead to organisational transformation that liberates your people to do great things.

How to bring a challenger mindset to sustainability, Mark Barden

  1. Be as creative in the marketing of sustainability as you have been in making your product sustainable
  2. Ditch the clichés and conventions of "green" because they are invisible
  3. Make the inspiring but invisible stuff visible - if it can be interesting
  4. Only bold ideas - aim for fame or don't bother, think "drama and surprise"
  5. Don't be afraid to call out "the monster" - it threatens us all and needs to be slain
  6. Criticism of bold ideas is inevitable and a positive metric
  7. You'll need to be brave 

Three ways companies can change the world for good, Robin Gadsby

Becoming behaviour innovators and destroying the offset mindset
The offsetting mindset is increasingly viewed as lazy. People want more. They want to see businesses looking at how they can reduce wastage and rely less on certain raw materials. And as far as offsetting goes - people want innovative ways of doing it and a plausible journey that lessens our reliance on it.

New tech adopters
As relying on raw materials becomes increasingly challenging and damaging, we will have to re-embrace science for its ability to create matter from scratch. Businesses have a key role to play in helping people understand the need and the opportunity here.

Consumption reducers
Brands and businesses need to actively break the unsustainable consumption cycle that we have all fallen into.


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