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.
In part two of this series, we delve into the specifics of Ad Net Zero’s Action Two – reducing emissions from advertising production.
As part of Action Two, every agency and production company, supported by their clients, will be urged to embrace the concept of zero waste and zero carbon in their production processes.
Just like various facets of the advertising industry, both motion and stills advertising production can have a significant carbon footprint, especially in the case of location shoots involving travel, hospitality requirements, and intricate supply networks. Similar to how businesses need to focus on efficient operations, the measurement of emissions becomes a critical factor in emission reduction.
This measurement is poised to gain even more significance as countries progress towards eco-friendly economies.
To help the screen sector and production companies implement sustainable production practices, an industry-led non-profit organisation GreenLit, has been established by Auckland-based producer Craig Gainsborough.
Currently in the building phase, GreenLit is about to launch Sustainability Action Plan templates along with other resources for sustainability and a carbon calculator for the New Zealand screen sector.
These resources will launch in October and will be readily available for the industry to use to measure their carbon emissions and to help plan their sustainability action.
With mandatory requirements being implemented within the film industry for productions to access a five percent rebate, Gainsborough says being part of Ad Net Zero will help production companies work together to reduce their emissions – something that will become increasingly necessary in the near future.
“If you’re going to be implementing environmentally sustainable practices on set, you’ve got to have plans, and you’ve got to be reporting and monitoring how you’re doing. We’re creating the infrastructure and support for that,” he says.
Gainsborough says these plans will be different for different scales of productions and is similar to having a health and safety plan.
“The earlier you get used to it, and the earlier you can adapt to the process, the easier it’s going to be. It’s best to learn with the whole industry than to come in as a late adopter.
“I would really encourage clients and agencies to encourage their productions to be environmentally sustainable. Just asking them to submit a report can be enough to encourage them to do it because the process of creating a report ensures they’re actually going through the steps.”
Kate Roydhouse, Executive Producer at The Sweetshop, is on the steering committee for GreenLit and Co-Chair of the Advertising Producers Aotearoa (APA). She says it’s important for people to realise there is no one quick fix to reduce carbon emissions from production but rather many smaller things, many of which New Zealand production companies have been practising for a long time.
“There is a real need to be doing it, doing it right and doing it right now, but the first and most important step is education and measurement – we need to establish a baseline before we can begin talking about reduction.”
She also notes that companies may feel the pressure to be perfect right off the bat, however adds “there is no such thing as perfect”.
“Everyone is working through it, it’s okay to make mistakes, we’re all learning. If the intention is right and we’re striving to do right based on current practises around sustainability and carbon measurement and reduction, that’s the best we can ask for. We’ve all got to start somewhere.”
Rosie Grayson, Head of Integrated Production of The Monkeys Aotearoa, has had first-hand experience with reducing carbon emission due to working with Meridian Energy. As a client, Meridian challenged the agency to ask themselves what they were doing in the sustainability space as well.
The first step was hiring a sustainability manager and learning how to report carbon emissions Grayson says.
“Job one is reporting because we don’t have any data around what we’re producing. It’s really difficult to measure change that has never been measured. Don’t feel that that’s not in itself a step forward.”
She agrees that it won’t be long before reporting on sustainability will be mandated by the government, so production companies might as well start now.
“There will come a point where everyone’s really well versed in it [measuring]and it’s second nature and just part of the job as with all the things in production that have come along over the years. But there will be tools to help people.
“The first thing is to set an intention to say, “We’re going to do this.” And there’ll be different ways you can achieve that, whether you utilise your own resources or production company resources or get a sustainability manager.
“You’re going to have to learn at some point and you may as well do that now. This isn’t about a business imperative, it shouldn’t be about glory seeking, and it’s certainly just something that we all have to do for the betterment of the planet.”
Ad Net Zero’s five-action framework focuses on reducing production emissions in Action Two. The working group in this area will focus on supporting initiatives such as GreenLit (alongside global alternatives such as AdGreen), alongside education and learning for the industry to identify key steps that we can all take to remove emissions from the production process. Anyone wanting to be kept up to date on industry progress can sign up for news updates by visiting adnetzero.co.nz.
To read more articles on this series click here.