As communicators of ideas and the agents of change, the advertising industry bears an enormous responsibility.
Climate change poses a very real threat to life as we know it: in just 20 years we will reach a critical tipping point. There is little time to celebrate the past year when our future hangs in the balance.
Cannes Lions brings together the best and the brightest in our industry, but they must leave as a united collective of creative activists.
At dentsu, our purpose is clear: we exist to create a better world - for our people, for our clients and partners, and for society. It is a mindset we all must adopt if we are to help guide brands and consumers toward a more sustainable future. Cannes Lions brings together the best and the brightest in our industry, but they must leave as a united collective of creative activists. This has never been more of an imperative.
Above: We need to see significant behaviour change if we are to halt the warming of the planet by 1.5°C.
The latest IPCC report was clear in its conclusions: we need to see significant behaviour change if we are to halt the warming of the planet by 1.5°C and limit the impact of the environmental and ecological disasters on the horizon. We need to create demand for more sustainable lifestyles, with plant-based diets and electric vehicles the norm.
As an industry, we know how to inspire people to a different way of living. It is our superpower.
As an industry, we are best suited to accelerate this shift, to work with brands to transform business models and create more sustainable products. We know how to inspire people to a different way of living. It is our superpower.
But, at present, it is not as easy as one would think. Dentsu research shows that consumer appetite for climate-friendly products has exploded in recent years. In fact, 77% of people globally say that, in five years’ time, they only want to be spending money with brands that practice green and sustainable advertising. But, there is still an ‘intention to action gap’. So, what are the barriers we must overcome to enact tangible change?
Above: Some travelling to Cannes may have opted to travel via other means than air, in a bid to halt the impact of climate change.
Barriers to a sustainable future
Research shows that 48% of consumers are aware of how they can engage with the circular economy. But, for the 52% who are not, there is little direction. Today there are around 400 different certification schemes for consumers to navigate, confusing even the most high-profile advocates. Transparency and effective communication are clearly lacking.
Moving towards a sustainable future
To solve these challenges, we need to work fast. We also need to work together. They are also not something which can be solved by a single organisation. But how do we bring everyone together to work in a single direction at pace? The key is creativity.
We need to harness the extraordinary creative talent and tools that we have as an industry to inspire people everywhere to make this change.
We need to harness the extraordinary creative talent and tools that we have as an industry to inspire people everywhere to make this change, for the long-term. We need to make sustainability simple to understand, aspirational and rewarding. It needs to become an easy choice. And we need to make it irresistible.
We must also live this message in our organisations. There are times when we need to come together to make change real, to move the conversation from the side rooms to centre stage. At Cannes this year, we will talk about the ‘brain print’ of advertising, the impact we have – and the impact we could have if we chose to do things differently. There will be a focus on the work we do and the sectors we work with. There will be challenging conversations and diverse perspectives. And, in this whirlwind of creativity and collaboration, we will no doubt see innovative ideas and solutions emerging.
Above: The advertising industry needs to be proactive in showing how we can fight climate change and avoid a catastrophic future.
At the same time, the industry will be much more aware of its physical ‘footprint.’ There will be fewer people. Some will take the train for the first time to avoid flying. Dentsu won’t be alone in offsetting our flight emissions. On the ground, we will repurpose materials to build our beach house, ban single-use plastic and red meat and work with local, ethical suppliers. If we are to make this the most sustainable Cannes Lions yet, we need to role model this change. And in doing so, we might all learn something.
If we are to make this the most sustainable Cannes Lions yet, we need to role model this change.
With the basics in place, the advertising community must access all its creative reserves to land the sustainability message in such a way which generates real change. Show don’t tell. We need to live these values and help our clients prepare for what’s next. Together we can bring people everywhere on this journey.