FEDERATION becomes first creative agency in New Zealand to launch sustainability consultancy

FEDERATION has taken up the challenge in leading New Zealand’s creative industries in climate, purpose and ESG change. The independent agency has become the first industry player to launch a climate and sustainability consultancy with the introduction of FEDERATION Impact.

Climate, purpose and ESG (environment, social, governance), have become globally important brand issues for many organisations. Investors and consumers are increasingly asking brands the tough questions on climate-related decarbonisation strategies, and their potential to impact brand integrity. For many companies, this is exposing their brand purpose gap. They’re seeing how sustainability is disconnected from both their internal and external brands, even though the bigger challenge of protecting the planet is becoming a top priority for both consumers and employees.

The agency’s launch of Impact follows several recent collaborations with clients, which CEO Sharon Henderson says has highlighted the challenges marketing teams face in this regard – challenges that her agency has first-hand insight into – and have led to the founding of Impact.

“FEDERATION works with some of the leaders in the climate space, I think – some of the organisations who have been making the biggest changes first.  Over the last five years, we’ve worked closely with Auckland Transport to transform Auckland into a cycling city.  Last year we began developing a climate-focussed behaviour change strategy to help Aucklanders embrace more ways of getting around the city. Through this process we understood the critical importance of connecting consumers and brands in an inspiring way with the net zero transition for climate.

“Our view is that in the commercial world, there are several brands doing amazing things at an organisational sustainability level. Our client L’Oréal is a great example. Auckland Transport is too. But in other instances, marketing is operating in a separate silo. And as marketers ourselves, we’ve gone, Well, why aren’t we doing what we know we can do to change behaviour in consumers?’ And if clients saw the opportunity to embed sustainability purpose into their brand, we could shift people along the journey of transitioning to a lower emissions environment much faster.”

Sharon Henderson.

The agency has made a significant investment in the expertise required to help government, business, NGO’s and marketing leaders to embed sustainability, climate action and purpose into their brands, for more innovative and effective communication. This is reinforced by the executive leadership team having committed more than 1,000 hours with the globally recognised University of Cambridge Sustainability Leadership Institute. It is the first and only ad agency in Aotearoa to achieve expert credentials in business and climate, and net zero transition.

Managing Partners Elizabeth Beatty, Olly Walker-Boden, and Henderson all completed the Cambridge programme. They will each have a specialist focus on key industry sectors including energy, transport, FMCG, manufacturing, government and local government, financial services, construction and retail.

 “It’s no mean feat for a New Zealand owned agency to pit itself against some of the world’s leading CEO’s, directors and consultants at Cambridge’s Sustainability Leadership Institute. We’ve come out with some of the highest grades, and a global network of sustainability and climate alumni.

‘’Climate and social impact are mainstream now. No one can afford to ignore it anymore. Every organisation in Aotearoa should have a viewpoint on how their brand will address some of the most pressing environmental and social issues of our time,” says Beatty. 

Henderson believes that being 100 percent New Zealand owned, the agency has a vested interest and genuinely cares about the future of climate in New Zealand. “I think we are perfectly positioned to help clients move a lot faster and become more adept in this space. We are really committed to climate change action, and we were able to make the decision last year to invest quite heavily in developing the capability and the expertise clients need. I know this kind of specialist focus simply wouldn’t happen inside a network.”

Beatty adds: “We enjoy relationships at very high levels across our client base. And we’re very focused on leading the right change in New Zealand. What we’re doing within the sustainability space is one area where we’re demonstrating that, and we’d love to do more. We’re also very passionate about inside-out brands and ensuring that a company’s brand purpose and commitment to people and the environment really manifests itself, not just within an organisation and not just externally, but also right across the suite of partners that a brand might have.”

Elizabeth Beatty.

Why not just integrate this new consultancy service into the existing FEDERATION offering for clients across the board?

Henderson says that Impact is more about the planning process and tools developed to guide accurate advice on brand purpose.

“Through the discussions we’ve had with different marketing organisations, we know that marketers want to take the right steps to avoid greenwashing. They’re nervous about focussing on creative outcomes ahead of identifying an authentic, long-term sustainability positioning for their brand.

“So an expert climate partner comes first.”

Given the complex nature of climate change, sustainability markers and ESG thinking, Beatty says that it’s about communicating in a way which is inspiring and motivating for consumers too.”

Walker-Boden adds: “We’ve got great examples of brands from all over the world in every sector, who are making a positive contribution to people and the planet. They’re brands that don’t just think in profit-only terms anymore. For example, leaving sustainability as an operational silo that focusses only on reducing carbon emissions is an outdated model. Today’s consumers are expecting brands to do more, more authentically.”

When it comes to walking the talk, Henderson says FEDERATION has clear sustainability goals of its own and is making changes internally to achieve these.

“We are in the process of two certifications requiring us to account for all of our processes around how we operate as a business and our scope of emissions.”

About Author

David Nothling-Demmer is Editorial Director - Business Titles at ICG Media. Titles include: StopPress, NZ Marketing magazine, Idealog and The Register.

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