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Sustainability’s Summer of Love

Experiential Marketing
New York, USA
With the climate crisis become ever more prominent, Selina Donald, Momentum's global sustainability director reflects on the impact events this summer are having on the climate message

After a three-year hiatus, the UK saw the return of one of the world’s most renowned and anticipated festivals, Glastonbury. Whilst the festival has always been a platform for sustainability and liberal politics, this year the climate crisis and social justice took the spotlight, from the Greenpeace banners flying to Billie Ellish sharing her thoughts on Roe v Wade and Greta Thunberg making a surprise appearance on the world’s biggest stage. Emily Eavis, the co-organiser of Glastonbury, said, “when we use events as a platform for climate action, people find out ways of being, of existing, of consuming… they discover new politics and new green ideas. It fires people up.”

At the same time, the Cannes Lion Festival of Creativity took place, but in a very different landscape than during the pre-lockdown years. Acknowledging the escalating climate crisis, purpose-driven creativity was a central feature of the awards, with competition briefs centred around the UN Sustainable Development Goals. One Gold winner from the festival was an AB Inbev/Corona campaign called ‘Plastic Fishing Tournament’, where they connected fishermen with recycling companies, incentivising them to recycle by offering them a second income selling plastic. Dole Sunshine Company won a Bronze Lion for their Responsible Consumption and Production campaign on pineapple leaves becoming the green alternative to leather. It’s showcasing such problem-solving ideas that’ll change the course of the world and set the benchmark for advertising and marketing as forces for good.

The use of events to amplify purpose-driven messages to drive social change isn’t new. Look at Earth Day (which started back in 1970 and is now a global movement), the March for Women and the School Strikes for Climate, which showcase a demand for positive change. One of the most iconic events in music history is Live Aid, which brought together the world’s biggest stars to use their talent to raise awareness - a legacy that remains to this day. 

On a smaller scale, we’re seeing brands use their consumer activations to showcase the causes that matter to them, how they value resources and to share their sustainability efforts. 65% of consumers want brands to have a purpose that is bigger than just selling a product. Through creating memorable experiences, brands have an opportunity to use their platform for positive change. As we say at Momentum, it’s not what brands say, but what they do, that matters. And consumers agree!

Events offer an opportunity to consider every touchpoint and to embed sustainability from ideation stage through to delivery, giving us the chance to tell a story that will inspire others to take meaningful, positive action for the planet and people. Whether that’s through impactful content and messaging, or subliminally through the choice of materials or reduction of polluting transport and equipment.

We recognise the detrimental impact that our work has on the environment, and the important role we play in the transition to a net zero future. This is why we developed the Make it Matter plan for climate action, and have become certified to ISO standards, embedding sustainability in everything we do. We have committed to become trailblazers in sustainable innovation and to find creative solutions to our challenges by using resources innovatively, efficiently and sustainably.

Events and advertising are industries known for their creativity and out-of-box thinking. We make hundreds of decisions a day that solve problems. One that we have yet to solve is how to use our powerful influence to drive decarbonisation. It’s thought that 70% of emissions needed to decarbonise industries can be driven by consumers, but we can’t expect consumers to shoulder the responsibility without understanding the how or why they should change their behaviours.

This is where we can put our creativity to use, thinking beyond talking about sustainability and instead integrating it into every brand’s touch-point as an opportunity to not only communicate a positive message, but also to influence the action needed. Taking inspiration from Emily Eavis, we need to use our platforms to educate, empower and fire people up if we’re going to use our work to bring about the vital changes needed.

Work from Momentum Worldwide
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