The recent introduction of Ad Net Zero in Aotearoa, spearheaded by the Commercial Communications Council, represents a significant step towards the ad industry committing to collaborative climate action. But how does this translate into tangible actions? In this series, the Comms Council and StopPress have joined forces to present five articles, each delving into the details of Ad Net Zero’s Action Plans.
As part of Ad Net Zero’s five-part action plan, Action 5 focuses on harnessing advertising’s power to support consumer behaviour change. We spoke to the Jo Bye, Group Manager – Marketing & Communications at Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) about the role that the ad industry can play in supporting and encouraging change on a societal level.
Ad Net Zero is committed to making climate action a central focus of its efforts, with the aim of influencing consumer behaviour positively. One of the key pillars is recognising the significant role that advertising plays in shaping the world.
This means agencies and their clients collaborating closely to gauge the environmental footprint of their campaigns, leveraging advertising to encourage eco-friendly choices among various products and services, supporting innovations that provide more sustainable solutions to people’s wants and needs, and advocating for societal behaviours that ultimately reduce carbon emissions.
Established as a crown entity under the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act 2000, EECA’s mission is to encourage, promote and support energy efficiency, energy conservation and the use of renewable sources of energy.
EECA’s participation in the Ad Net Zero programme aligns with its goal of promoting positive narratives and reducing production emissions in the advertising industry.
Bye says the beauty of the advertising industry is that creativity and storytelling can be combined with commercial goals and behaviour change.
“There is a natural recognition that the advertising industry has a lot of potential for early adopting and pulling people through into the mainstream of what good looks like in low carbon lifestyle,” she says.
“The kind of work we put forward to clients is heavily influenced by our own cultural barometers, what trends are out there, and trying to navigate that early adoption.”
Bye believes that while the true benefits will depend on the product, service or brand and who the consumer is, the challenge the ad industry has is to navigate and push a narrative in a way that is genuinely beneficial to the end user, whether that is convenience, cost savings or benefits with regards to health.
“There’s lots of possible co-benefits alongside just doing good for the planet as a whole that genuinely should be good for the end user. And it’s up to all those individual brands, products and services to unlock that and then make sure that they’ve really tested it, understood which ones are going to be most motivating.”
Bye says being part of Ad Net Zero also helps to focus marketers or product managers to understand the true costs and benefits of their products and brands that they are taking to market.
“Marketers and businesses will always want to make sure they’re keeping in step with their consumer or the potential market. This just follows that same natural trajectory of if consumers really care about environmental impacts or transparency and how their product is brought into market, then hopefully that will help nudge businesses towards ensuring that their products and their company’s footprint is lining up with those expectations.”
Bye says if this doesn’t align, then it is motivation for businesses to adapt and think about how they can change the products and services they are putting to market for the better.
“The first step towards understanding is being really honest about what your business impact is and how you can go about trying to improve that and reduce it.
“I also think it’s really important for New Zealanders to have more capability and control and know a lot more about their products and services and that full life cycle.”
Bye hopes that this process will mean that the best will rise to the top and hopefully as time goes on the best will be things that are sustainable and “genuinely try to reduce their impact on the environment”.