Committing to Sustainability

Posted by Yit Wong
Account Director

As more brands launch corporate sustainability initiatives, Yit Wong questions if advertisers are doing enough to be truly sustainable.

Sustainability. A super buzzword in recent times, and with good reason. There is no denying that there has been a significant shift in attitude towards companies, brands and people being better – and saving the planet at the same time! It is no surprise, then, that sustainable advertising is also on the rise, reflecting the changing attitude and demands of consumers.

This cannot ring truer than here in New Zealand, with research showing that sustainability makes a difference for 47% of Kiwis when it comes to choosing a brand or product to purchase.

So, are New Zealand advertisers doing enough to be truly sustainable? Or are they just selling the buzzword? Are we all, as consumers, just buying into the feel-good factor, in an attempt to offset our own guilt?

There are some brands tackling questions of sustainability head-on, changing their approach and offering consumers a transparent window into their business practices. Internationally, the self-described ‘activist’ clothing company Patagonia and plastic-free beauty brand Ethique are good examples of brands whose sustainability initiatives are based on core values, rather than just marketing strategies.

Locally, brands like Air New Zealand and Mercury are at the forefront of corporate sustainability initiatives, with more corporations following. Many of us are aware of Air New Zealand’s sustainability CSR, which includes sustainability sourcing, and their involvement in conservation and science, to ensure they give back as much as they can. Mercury’s commitment is towards a low-emissions future, with their latest campaign calling for Kiwis to kiss oil goodbye and join the electric (transport) revolution.

Media suppliers are also jumping on board. QMS, for example, has recently announced that, as part of their commitment to reducing the business’ impact on the planet, that they are now only using PVC-free substrate for their static billboards. They have also partnered with Trees That Count and are funding the planting of 500 native trees nationwide, contributing towards the non-profit’s vision of planting 200 million trees across New Zealand.

Sustainable products, services and behaviors are the future. They are better for business, consumers and the planet, and increasingly consumers are asking for them. To fully embrace sustainability advertising, brands need to think about what value they are providing their customers by being sustainable, be that a functional, emotional or social benefit.

And more than anything, they need to be real – and walk the walk!