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Purpose Disruptors Launch Advertised Emissions Report at COP26

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Sales uplift from successful ad campaigns produces equivalent of almost half of the UK’s total domestically produced emissions

Purpose Disruptors Launch Advertised Emissions Report at COP26

The uplift in sales caused by successful advertising campaigns produces the equivalent of almost half of the UK’s total domestically produced emissions, a landmark report from Purpose Disruptors has established.

Advertisers pride themselves on their ability to create demand and sell products. Their business model is based on how many products they can sell for the least amount of investment. The more effective a campaign, the more products will be sold. And in turn, the more emissions are produced by these products being created. 

Based on the well-established ‘Financed Emissions’ utilised by the finance industry to measure the full impact of its investments, Advertised Emissions aims to move the advertising industry from measuring only the baseline emissions associated with running an advertising business to the emissions associated with its output.

When this metric is measured, including the additional emissions associated with growing, mining, drilling, manufacturing, shipping and using the extra products that advertising helps sell, this report has established that every person working in advertising in the UK is, on average, responsible for the carbon footprint of 34 of their fellow UK citizens.

Featuring new research by econometrics agency Magic Numbers, the report shows that in 2019, the last year of complete available data, Advertised Emissions from UK advertising were more than 186m tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents.

The report calls on members of the advertising industry to: 

  • Take full responsibility for their current climate impact and commit to reducing it by 50% by 2030 and net zero by 2050, if not sooner.
  • Adopt Advertised Emissions as its primary climate metric in order to measure and reduce its biggest climate impact.
  • Reduce spend and advertising on high carbon businesses
  • Reallocate skill away from promoting high-carbon consumer choices to lower-carbon ones. 

Purpose Disruptors, a community-based organisation of advertising insiders working together to reshape the industry, will announce the findings of its report at a COP26 event and argue that it is time for a fact based discussion on the impact advertising-driven demand is having on the planet. 

Only a small proportion (7%) of all Advertised Emissions take place in the advertiser’s own business, with the vast majority of emissions being incurred along the supply chain, often outside the UK, where many of the products we buy are made. 

Purpose Disruptors is calling on the industry to face up to the reality of the emissions involved in making the extra products advertising helps sell, and adopt Advertised Emissions, and to take responsibility for measuring their current contribution and commit to reducing them towards net zero.

The full report will be announced Tuesday at the only official event dedicated to advertising held in the Blue Zone at Cop26.  The link to view live is here. Please see attached for the full report. Jonathan Wise, founder of Purpose Disruptors, is available for interview. 

Purpose Disruptors founder, Jonathan Wise, said: “To date, none of the existing net zero or climate commitments by advertising and marketing communications agencies include the impact in relation to the creative work they produce –  the very reason they exist.

“Those creating the emissions that cause climate change need to take responsibility for measuring their current contribution and commit to reducing them towards net zero.

“Advertising is a powerful cultural force with the gift and responsibility to shift the sector’s role in shaping the current, high-consumption landscape towards a low-consumption alternative.

“I think most people in the sector would be shocked that their work is having such a detrimental impact. But this isn’t a negative story – as architects of demand, advertising has the power to be a force for good. It is capable of inducing people to switch to lower carbon options and so reduce emissions.

“The finance industry has accepted that its climate impact reaches far beyond its day-to-day emissions. It is time for advertising to step up and do the same. 

Ben Essen, co-author of Advertised Emissions and Chief Strategy Officer at Iris said: "Over a quarter of every UK consumers’ total emissions are driven by the posters, sponsorships and ads that influence our decisions every day. Advertising has an incredible power to shape behaviours and norms, though this power is currently being used indiscriminately. 

“We hope that Advertised Emissions will help change that – by empowering the advertising industry to make difficult, informed choices about what is and isn't promoted. Because, frankly, we won't reduce emissions by 50% with ‘advertising as usual’.


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Iris, Wed, 10 Nov 2021 16:19:59 GMT