Sustainability & Advertising

Dec 15, 2022

Lela Charavgi / KANTAR Hellas

Consumers increasingly expect brands to play an active role in making the world a better place. As sustainability is one of the defining issues of our time, brands have a role to play in this in many aspects of their organizations – from production to brand communications. We know from Kantar’s BrandZ work that building brands with strong Brand Purpose makes good commercial sense as brands rating highly on BrandZ Sustainability Index, grew brand value by 31% in total vs. 2021 – ahead of the average Top 100 brands. But getting it right is challenging, as many brands are accused of greenwashing and jumping on the bandwagon. So, a hot topic for the brands and advertising agencies is: How can you address sustainability in your campaigns in a way that is authentic for your brand and motivates people to behave sustainably? Let’s get started by looking at the broader context that advertisers find themselves in when it comes to sustainability. Kantar recently launched the Sustainability Sector Index 2022 that maps consumer attitudes to sustainability – including what they expect of brands in this space. Now, what is clear of course from the research is that people across the world cared deeply about social and environmental issues. Sustainability and sustainable issues are important to consumers in Greece, as well. The majority (86%) takes careful note or considers the causes brands support when making purchase decisions. Further, 5 out of 10 pay lot of attention to environmental and societal issues in the news and for 4 out of 10 buying sustainable products is a demonstration of who they are. However, several barriers get in the way of them acting. Some of these hurdles relate to consumers’ state of mind and their day-to-day life as well as high cost of living while other barriers relate to the sustainable offers such as their availability, quality, level of information and consumer lack of education as well as high prices for such products. Brands can help consumers reduce these barriers through many actions – including communications. And they have risen to the challenge! Kantar’s Link ad testing database shows that the number of ads that address social and environmental issues has tripled since 2016. But consumers aren’t convinced of brands’ intentions. In fact, 65% of people in Greece, worry that brands are involved in these issues just for commercial reasons. So how to get it right? Our data in Kantar, shows that purpose messaging alone doesn’t drive advertising performance. It is essential for purpose messaging to be at the heart of the brand… That means that getting the emotional tone right is both important, and difficult, and our analysis at both Kantar and Affectiva shows the power of getting it right, and the pitfalls of getting it wrong. In Kantar’s Link database, we examined the emotions that viewers said they felt when watching ads with sustainability or social responsibility messages. What we found out is that ads with sustainability messages tend to evoke very powerful emotions, such as feeling proud, inspired or affectionate.  But they also tend to evoke negative emotions such as guilt or sadness.  This isn’t a surprise, but it poses the question – what is the best approach?  Should we be sending consumers on a guilt trip to encourage sustainable behaviour, or should we be inspiring change? To examine this further we took the ads with sustainability and social messaging and split them into two groups – those that were strong performers on Kantar’s measures of advertising success, and those that were weak performers, and looked at the emotions they evoked using emotion neuroscience AI technology powered by Affectiva. It was clear that the top performing campaigns were more likely to evoke positive emotions – they produced more smiles and other expressions of joy and had a more net positive effect.  In contrast, the bottom performers tended to evoke more negative expressions, indicating sadness, confusion, and more brow furrows and downturned mouths.  This strongly suggests that a more uplifting emotional tome is more associated with campaign success. This is reinforced if we look again at the emotions viewers claimed to feel on the Link survey.  Both top and bottom performers do evoke guilt – which is not a surprise given out collective responsibility for climate change.  But the bottom performers are more likely to evoke feelings of inadequacy, sadness and annoyance.  The latter is particularly concerning, as it implies a degree of rejection. In contrast, the top performers are much more likely to evoke positive emotions, such as confidence excitement inspiration and pride.  It seems clear then that from both direct behavioural observation of people’s reactions, and their self-report, that sustainability campaigns perform better if they don’t simply dwell on the challenges but leave people with a more inspiring and positive view of how change may be encouraged. So, analysis of both the Kantar and Affectiva datasets strongly suggests that guilt alone may not be the best lever to pull to drive change and the adoption of more sustainable brands. Brands have a role to play in making a difference when it comes to sustainability – both in terms of how they operate in the world and how they help people behave more sustainably. However, sustainability isn’t a shortcut to advertising success. The messaging needs to be authentic for the brand, otherwise you risk alienating consumers who are already skeptical of brands’ actions in this space. However, there is no one size fits all when it comes to creativity. The creative choices you make resonate differently with people with different attitudes towards sustainability. Even those that aren’t engaged in sustainable behaviour can be reached, but the opposite is true as well – even people who are engaged in sustainable behaviors can be turned off by ads with sustainable messaging. Understanding the psychological levers in your creative choices and how they are received by your audience is key. While it can be effective to leverage negative emotions such as guilt, it is crucial to leave people feeling hopeful and confident, otherwise you risk alienating them. And last but not least, stay relatable – don’t be afraid to use humour and other creative choices to strike the right balance between problem and solution.

Mediarisk is associate of EBIQUITY for GR & CY

Essential Features to search for in an On the web Data Space Start

A digital data room is a great device for M&A, capital raising, IPOs, divestitures and other research projects. In contrast to emailing files, a online data room provides businesses with all the records they need in one convenient place. This reduces the risk of...

How to Have a fantastic Board Get together

Having a wonderful board achieving means having productive discussion posts that push the company onward. It also means having a aboard that is aware their roles and responsibilities and is focused on fulfilling them. Board individuals aren’t generally there to just...

The Brief Advantage

Achieving Exceptional Campaign Results is the dream of every marketer. And yet, the cornerstone of this, an inspiring and well-thought, clear and simple Advertising & Media Brief, is most of the time reduced to an uninspiring bureaucratic step. But don’t get...

CO2 in Digi. Sustainability & Business Growth

A Puff of Carbon Dioxide By Ruben Schreurs, Group Chief Product Officer @ EBIQUITY Dozens,​ hundreds, perhaps even thousands of online ads flash before your eyes every day, so many that you probably don’t even notice most of them. Generating the electricity to get...

Sustainability & Advertising

Lela Charavgi / KANTAR Hellas Consumers increasingly expect brands to play an active role in making the world a better place. As sustainability is one of the defining issues of our time, brands have a role to play in this in many aspects of their organizations - from...

Sustainability & Data, Data & Sustainability

Extract from Original full article by Nick Waters, Chief Executive Officer of EBIQUITY Group. In October 2022, EBIQUITY invited Ian Whittaker, the founder of Liberty Sky Advisors and a specialist city analyst in the media and marketing technology sectors, to share his...

It’s All Advertising, isn’t it?

Lord Northcliffe, the UK newspaper tycoon who owned ‘The Daily Mail’ famously said: “News is what somebody somewhere wants to suppress; all the rest is advertising.” An unknown consumer said: “It’s all advertising, isn’t it?” One of my favourite quotes comes (of...

Have we been law abiding citizens? Ask your media specialist!

Yes, yes one year of COVID… One year of quarantine, lockdowns, curfew, masks, social distancing, click in shop, click away, terms that have never concerned us before. One year of constant fight with an invisible virus, with our emotions, with constrained desires and...

Marketing and Climate Change

As reported from the “WFA Marketing Week 2021” by Michaela Jeferson –Marketing Week Magazine 21 Apr. 2021, Marketers are less advanced on sustainability than their businesses as a whole. Thus, what Peter Wright says, captures fully the dynamics of our era: In fact, of...

Voltswagen: Πρωταπριλιάτικο ή πραγματικό?

Η Volkswagen Αμερικής κυκλοφόρησε ότι μετονομάζεται σε Voltswagen, για να δώσει έμφαση στο ότι από εδώ και πέρα είναι όχι «το αυτοκίνητο του λαού», όπως εμφατικά είχε βαφτιστεί πριν από 66 χρόνια στη Γερμανία, αλλά το «το ηλεκτρικό αυτοκίνητο του λαού». Μάλιστα και το...