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Our timeline

May 2020: contributing to the European Commission public consultation on the Green Deal.

June 2020: writing to various press companies and advertising companies regarding their sustainable advertising practices.

July-August 2020: preparing a citizen’s initiative, liaising with other sustainable development and green transition organisations.

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You can help

It is the beginning, and bringing sustainable ads and advertising at the forefront of the policy debate, and ensuring that the advertising industry in the EU makes a real change towards sustainable advertising is an ambitious goal.

We need help with:

  • Creating content for this website, in particular, we are looking for statistics on the amount of money that is spent on sustainable advertising versus unsustainable advertising.
  • Surveying advertisers and advertising companies, providing us with stories and examples of issues. You can start by counting the pages promoting unsustainable products and services in your favourite newspaper and website, and write them to ask for a change. We will provide templates for this, and you can copy us of your correspondance, in any language.
  • Proposing ideas, promote the project, anything you might deem useful!

We reply to all emails: contact@sustainableads.eu

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What we ask

We ask the European Commission to regulate more strictly advertising, the ultimate goal is to ban ads for unsustainable goods and services.

Context

Advertising is a key enabler for meeting the ambitious climate goals of the EU. The EU and the European Commission are planning to invest billions of Euros in a successful green transition. However, many advertising that Europeans see everyday are not promoting sustainable products. For this reason, individuals in the EU feel a strong tension between the messages received from governments, and the messages they receive through advertising.

Still today our cities are covered with ads for polluting large SUVs, while we surf on the internet we see an astonishing number of ads for air travelling, and short stays in far destination are strongly encouraged. Magazines are covered with ads for unsustainable products and services.

Our assessment is that the advertising industry is not acting responsibly in the context of climate change: audacious and ambitious policy actions are required to ensure that European see more ads for sustainable products.

History is repeating, the advertising industry in the past didn’t react responsively to health crisis triggered by alcohol consumption and tobacco consumption. Tight regulation was needed to curb advertising for tobacco and alcohol and limit the health damages for the population.

Today, the advertising industry is not acting responsibly in the context of the climate crisis.

We believe that the EU is the right level for regulating unsustainable advertising. It has successfully regulated advertising for tobacco, alcohol and other toxic goods in the past. It should regulate advertising for good and services that are toxic for the environment and impair efforts to limit climate change.

What do we want to achieve

We want to achieve a strong reduction in unsustainable advertising across the EU, on the basis of fair and uniform rules. This should be particularly the case in sectors that are subdidized with public money or are benefitting from tax exemptions, such as press and magazines.

Cities in transition should be able to ban unsustainable advertising in the street.

We also want to ensure that digital advertising would be tightly regulated to limit the promotion of unsustainable goods and services. In particular, all digital ads should be categorized according to their sustainability levels, and advertisers and users should be able to ban unsustainable advertising themselves, using technologies such as youradchoices or Adblockplus. For this, clear rules regarding the categorisation of ads need to be defined at the European level.

We need your help!

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What are sustainable ads: some definitions

Sustainable ads are ads that are good for the climate. Here we propose some definitions.

We propose to classify ads in three categories:

Sustainable ads: Doing what the ads advertises for results in a positive impact on the climate. Additionally, those ads should not themselves make a disproportionate use of resources. For instance an ad that advertises switching to renewable energy.

Ad published in National Geographic -04.2020

Climate neutral ads: The ad advertises for a product that is climate neutral, or for which carbon emissions have been compemsated. For instance, an ad that advertises for a service that has no or a limited impact on the climate. This includes for exemple advertising for local cultural events or services.

Ad for Kellogg university, HBR special issue, Spring 2020

Unsustainable ads: The ad advertises for a product that has a strong negative impact on the climate. This includes for example ads for trips abroad, ads for cars etc. Ads that are in themselves very polluting, such as untargeted mass printed brochures, are considered not sustainable.

Unsustainable ad, copied from the best of Harvard Business Review, Spring 2020.

In a nutshell, sustainable ads are ads that are good for the climate: local and climate-neutral !

Do you agree with those definitions? Please see what you can do to help us.