Dentsu Elevates Sustainability From Societal Cause To Ad Industry Imperative

Tucked between reams of data that are the basis for its just-released 42-page 2022 global advertising forecast, Dentsu devotes three pages to a broader call for ad-industry action on the correlation between ad spending and sustainability.

In other words, excluding the report's cover, TOC, methodology and appendix pages, Dentsu devoted about 8% of its 2022 forecast to recommendations for using advertising and media in a more sustainable, and carbon-neutral way, elevating the subject from a societal cause to an ad-industry imperative on the par of issues like "brand purpose," consumer privacy compliance and marketing during a pandemic.

"In the years ahead, ad spending will be an important reflection not just of economic confidence, and innovation, but the speed and scale of adoption of more sustainable behaviors, and the transformation of economies," the Dentsu forecasting team writes in the report, citing three primary areas of focus for ad pros:

  • Communicate plans, not just pledges.
  • Embrace hyper transparency.
  • Encourage sustainable consumption.



Citing a 2021 research initiative on "sustainable media" conduced with Microsoft, which found that three in five consumers plan to boycott brands that fail to act on climate change, Dentsu implied it's not just a potential existential threat to people living on the planet, but to the brands they choose as well.

The report also notes that there already is regulatory action taking place on the local, national and multi-national level to formally ban advertising linked to fossil fuels, which raises sustainable advertising media initiatives to a compliance level, as well.

"Businesses will face increasing pressure – formal and informal – to accelerate their ambitions and report on their planning and progress, redefining companies’ growth strategies and in turn influencing innovation in marketing and ad spend," the report asserts.

Lastly, the section of the report concludes by asking the ad industry to examine the correlation -- as well as the tradeoffs -- between effective advertising and promoting unsustainable consumer consumption.

"Alongside the heightened public engagement in climate action, advertising can play a targeted role in supporting consumer engagement and adoption of sustainable consumption by tapping into concerns about the sustainability of travel, and consumer interest in lower carbon travel options," the report suggests, noting: "Likewise, the expected increase in demand for health foods presents an opportunity to engage consumers on behaviors – such as reducing food waste, plant-based diets, or more sustainable sourcing of foods."

The agency pledged to continue tracking these themes "as a barometer of advertising's role in engaging consumers in the transition to a net zero economy in the coming months."

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