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Opinion: How to make a Sustainable Creative Ad Campaign

With a MA in Creative and Commercial Communications – with a with a particular focus on sustainable ad production- Clare O’Reilly, client manager with Core Creative, shares her recent experience of making a sustainable ad for client Energia.

My choice of thesis subject was very much aligned with what I see happening externally, where sustainability is a key issue for industry and clients are looking to play their part in addressing the climate crisis and reduce their carbon footprint.

While the advertising industry certainly knows how to captivate our attention, the way in which we produce our ads generates huge amounts of emissions.

There has rightly been a significant call within the industry to make fundamental changes to how we produce our advertising, and in our recent campaign with Energia, we wanted to address this and minimise our impact. Inspired by our shared commitment to environmental responsibility, Energia agreed to pilot the sustainable production approach with us.

Approaching sustainable creative production.

Our first port of call was AdGreen. The AdGreen calculator is a powerful tool designed to help advertisers assess and understand the environmental impact of their advertising campaigns by measuring carbon emissions and resource usage throughout the production process. It is a practical tool that considers various factors such as energy consumption, transportation, materials, and waste generated, allowing users to gain insights into the sustainability performance of their campaigns by calculating the carbon footprint and highlighting areas where improvements can be made.

Under the guidance of AdGreen we looked at every aspect of the of the production process from script ideation to post-production. In the ideation phase we took care not to bake emissions into the script – ensuring we focused on local production, preventing emissions from travel abroad.

In the lead up to the shoot, in partnership with Element Post, we engaged a freelance Sustainability Officer to monitor our progress and ensure we adhered to our sustainability goals. This involved sourcing sustainable props, using bio-fuel generators, eco-friendly lighting set ups and sustainably sourced wardrobe.

When it came to cast, we invited local children, living in the area close to where we were shooting to be part of our campaign. This not only reduced the travel distance (and budget) but aligned to our sustainability and inclusivity goals.

On shoot day, everyone travelled to the set by sustainable means – walking, car-pooling, eco-taxis, or public transport. We even had both client and agency personnel cycle – though we might all be better off if we hadn’t been subjected to the very fashionable Lycra ensembles. Lunch on set was locally sourced vegan and vegetarian food, embracing a more sustainable and animal-friendly approach.  While some happily embraced the kaleidoscope of veggie delights, there were a few bewildered souls who couldn’t hide their longing for a juicy burger!

Throughout each stage of the production process, we input the data in the calculator, and we are awaiting the final carbon footprint from AdGreen (which we estimate could be up to 70% reduction). Alongside Energia, Core plans to offset this (e.g., planting trees) with a local Irish partner who aligns with the UN sustainable development goals.

This pilot project is a milestone for Core Creative and is testament to our belief that creativity and sustainability can go hand in hand. At Core, we believe in making a difference and as we set the stage for a remarkable ad production that leaves a positive impact on the planet. We invite clients, collaborators, and the entire industry to join us on this journey towards a more sustainable and inspiring world. Together, we can redefine the boundaries of advertising and create a future where creativity and environmental consciousness intertwine harmoniously.

Clare O’Reilly is a Client Manager with Core Creative

For more information on AdGreen visit https://weareadgreen.org/

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