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Iris Launches ‘Carbon kickback’ Incentivising Clients to Fight Climate Change

Advertising Agency
London, UK
‘Carbon kickback’ will be offered to clients who sign up to agency’s client climate charter with Iris maintaining a ‘digital-first’ model post-lockdown to reduce its own carbon emissions

Iris has launched a new global initiative dubbed the ‘Carbon kickback’ as part of its ongoing commitment to the planet. The initiative encourages clients to sign up to a new ‘client climate charter’ and incentivises those who sign up with access to the agency’s sustainability specialists free of charge. 

Iris has set ambitious targets for its 15-office network to be net-zero by 2025 and now the creative innovation agency wants to help clients move forward in their eco journey too. A new climate charter encourages clients to take positive climate action by committing to 5 key principles that will help marketing departments contribute to the reduction of their organisation’s overall carbon footprint. 

Iris will incentivise clients by reinvesting any time that is saved back into their business, in the form of free consultancy sessions with sustainability specialists in their ‘Future Strategy’ team. The Future Strategy team has already been working with big name brands to develop more sustainable and socially valuable strategies in areas such as circularity, social purpose, carbon offsetting and EVs. 

The charter’s key focus is on rapid reductions in international travel, which prior to lockdown made up 55% of Iris’ global emissions. In 2020, Iris invested heavily in collaboration tools to maximise the benefits of a digital-first approach, and has developed a proprietary remote working product that has been adopted by Iris’ B2B clients. 

Less time travelling has meant more time dedicated to solving client’s problems, and to help sustain this ‘digital-first’ approach post-lockdown, Iris has committed to protecting and reinvesting any time saved from not travelling, directly back into their client’s business. The agency network has set ‘carbon budgets’ for each office and will measure its progress via its inhouse data analysts. They will also invest in carbon credits against any emissions that cannot be avoided or reduced.    

Travel is just one of five key principles underpinning the climate charter, others include; commitment to sustainable production processes; promotion of sustainable behaviour in creative work produced; commitment to reporting and measuring the carbon impact of campaigns through ‘Ecoffectiveness’ and finally propelling progress through participation - by encouraging other agencies within the global advertising industry to adopt similar models, a move which is backed by The Purpose Disruptors. 

Starbucks has been named as the first agency-client partner to back the charter, with Iris hoping more will follow. Fellow networked agencies Cheil, Barbarian, BMB and McKinney have also pledged their commitment to the progressive initiative. 

Ben Essen, Global Chief Strategy Officer at Iris said: “In 2019, $1.4 trillion was spent globally on business travel - but 2020 has shown us that we can work smarter to save time, money and the planet. It's our job to empower clients to take bold action in the fight against climate change. The carbon kickback is a tangible way for us to start making a difference immediately, for both Iris and our clients.” 

Reuben Arnold, Vice President of Marketing & Product at Starbucks EMEA, commented: “I’ve experienced first-hand the transformational effects of working with Iris’ Future Strategy team in shaping how we engage customers in new ways, particularly in the last year and I’m proud to support the client climate charter.”

In addition to the client charter, Iris has been pioneering internal policies to encourage wider carbon footprint reduction, such as offering its people additional holiday if they proactively choose to take the train or drive as opposed to flying for personal holidays. They have also collaborated with carbon measurement platform Giki to enable each of their people around the world to personally contribute to an overall reduction target. 

Iris has been at the forefront of sustainability action within the advertising industry for the past 3 years, leading initiatives such as Create & Strike in 2019, and working closely with The Purpose Disruptors to create The Great Reset in 2020. Ben Essen, Iris’ Global Chief Strategy Officer is a founding member of the Advertising Association’s climate action working group, helping shape the strategy for ‘Ad Net Zero’, the industry’s plan to reach net zero by 2030. As part of the plan, the AA, IPA and ISBA encourage agencies to take part in Ecoffectiveness, a new measurement tool created by Ben and Elvis’ Caroline Davison, that encourages return on Co2 to become the new measure for effectiveness in advertising.