Why COP26 Is The Moment For Brands To Become Agents Of Change

  • 1 month ago
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Being on the ground at COP26, it’s clear that lots of brands are taking social and environmental issues seriously enough to put them at the heart of their campaigns.

We’ve seen some really great examples of these which have helped to position the organisation at the forefront of climate action. We’re talking….

The Guardian’s ‘Big oil doesn’t grease our wheels’ out of home billboards 

This is an amazing example of simple and impactful communications which clearly illustrates the what and the why. By outlining their commitment to reject advertisement from fossil fuels, The Guardian are able to showcase their purpose in a clever and engaging way. A real bonus was that this was displayed around the secure Blue Zone area at COP26 where world leaders are meeting. 

BrewDog’s ‘The planet’s favourite beer’

BrewDog are well known for their witty, text-led advertising campaigns and this one is no different. This classic slogan is super clear and simple and works to stake the brand’s place as the most sustainable choice. At COP26 this billboard is featured on huge illuminated billboards by the exit to make sure that the brand is front of mind after a long day at the conference. 


The ‘Sinking House’ sculpture in Bath

This clever, experiential campaign made people stop and take note in the centre of Bath. By disrupting the everyday, this sinking house worked to catch people’s attention and encourage them to find out more. Simple, but highly effective.

NatWest’s ‘What’s My Bank Got To Do With Climate Change’ campaign 

NatWest tackled this hugely important question within their latest campaign and broke from their traditional messaging to acknowledge the role of banks in the climate crisis. By being transparent and honest this campaign shows why it’s vital NatWest takes action today and highlights what they are doing, in a way that avoids greenwash. 

A recent study from Sprout Social found that 66% of consumers want brands to be involved in social and political issues, but this means it’s getting harder to spot the green from the greenwash. We’re seeing a huge rise in marketing campaigns that are putting purpose at the core and while many of these are genuine, many are being used to inflate how green they truly are.

But sustainability is more than just a marketing campaign. It’s a whole business shift. In the run-up to COP26 we saw all sorts of brands coming out of the woodwork with (good and bad) environmental campaigns to push their ‘green credentials’… but being environmentally friendly isn’t just a moment in time. As a brand you can’t just dip your toe in, you need to dive the whole way in, shaking up your business, cleaning up your supply chains and making sure that sustainability is at the heart of everything you do. 

It’s time for brands to become permanent agents of change and bang the drum 365 days a year, not just when the spotlight’s on the planet. In today’s world, brands and influencers have huge influence over politics, trends and consumer behaviour and have the power to mobilise fans and communities to bring about monumental change. 

Now we know this can take bravery. Often this can take a brand to stand out from the crowd and fight for what they believe in. But those who do are often surprised by the huge support. Consumers want brands to lead the way and do the right thing. 

Just look at Ben & Jerry’s, in July of this year they announced they ended sales of their ice cream “in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT)”, in January 2020 The Guardian banned advertising from fossil fuel firms and in 2020 Patagonia stopped all paid advertising on Facebook. This is just a handful of examples where brands have strayed from the norm and stood up for what they believe in.

Being an agent of change isn’t just something you push in your marketing either. It needs to flow throughout your whole business. From the hiring of employees to the way your business operates, it has to be ingrained in your core. 

So how do brands go about becoming agents of change? 

Advocate: for other brands, individuals and organisations who are striving to do better.

Educate: your consumers and fans on the importance of positive action and your role as a business. 

Expose: greenwashers and don’t be afraid to call out the bullsh*t.

Simplify: your language to make it accessible to all to bring as many people along with you.

Inspire: your community to get excited about a cleaner, greener future.

Be immediate: by bringing your targets and action into the present. 2030 and 2050 are a long way off, so what are you doing today to have an impact? 

With brands affecting nearly every person on the planet, it’s time for you to become an agent of change and use your businesses as a powerful force for good, long after the dust has settled on COP26.

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