An Ad Net Zero panel of commercial sustainability champions from across the news brand industry emphasised the vital roles of collaboration and education in the pursuit of net zero
Dora Michail-Clendinnen, Ozone chief strategy officer, stressed the importance of “resist[ing] the urge of making carbon a commodity”. Instead, she wanted to see media organisations prioritising discussions about the good each company brings to the cause over using sustainability as a means of competitive advantage.
Ryan Uhl, Mail Metro Media chief brand strategy officer, also expressed the need for greater collaboration. He called on the industry to ensure work on specific targets was not being duplicated across several similar working groups so that resources could be freed up to make the meaningful change organisations wanted to achieve.
Meanwhile, news brands’ ability to promote behaviour change through both editorial and commercial means was another major talking point among the panellists.
“News brands are experts at demystifying the complex”, said Jacqui Merrington, discovery director at Reach, adding the importance of “making sure we’re really connecting with the audience so we know what really matters to them”.
James Fleetham, the Guardian’s head of client sales, also stressed the “superpower” of journalism in this regard: “Reporting is the biggest opportunity we have [to change the world].”
Sustainability and consumers’ priorities
Alongside the panel discussion hosted by Ad Net Zero last Thursday, the session kicked off with two pieces of research around how advertisers can help climate-conscious news brand readers make more sustainable choices.
Newsworks business analyst Jennifer Schooling presented cross-publisher sustainability research released earlier this year, encouraging brands to consider the majority of consumers (and news brand readers) that are eager to make environmentally positive choices but are equally as concerned about product quality and price.
Uhl followed this with Mail Metro Media’s ‘Greenwash’ research. With consumers most likely to hear terms such as ‘net zero’ in advertising campaigns, the study highlights the importance of language in brands’ communications around sustainability. It finds that consumers are more likely to consider sustainability terms as important when they understand what they mean and are sceptical of campaigns that use terms they do not understand.