As sustainability moves up the agenda for many B2B organisations, more businesses are leveraging media platforms to promote social and climate-conscious sustainability initiatives.
A well-executed sustainability campaign can easily shift the balance towards positive brand perception and as marketeers we have a unique responsibility to tell our story in an honest, relatable and authentic way. Revealing too much or pushing an agenda too hard can be counter-productive and induce a feeling of scepticism.
The importance of striking the right balance between commercial objectives and ethical responsibility cannot be emphasised enough. Both elements need to be addressed adequately, despite this being an incredibly difficult task.
Rare as they may be, good sustainability campaigns exist, and we have hand-picked three that caught our attention for their ability to inspire and create a connection with their audience.
Edge, Net Zero, Plus One Amsterdam
With almost 40% of global carbon emissions originating from building and construction, the built environment is ripe for a sustainable revolution. Edge, a leading infrastructure and climate pioneer, are pushing boundaries, exploring new technology and innovating with new materials as they aim to create better, healthier and more sustainable buildings.
The idea that net-zero is a promise for today – not tomorrow – resonates throughout Edge’s video. They’re not asking people to make a change, but instead they position themselves as an inspiring leader who is leading with tangible action.
Visually, it is diverse in style and full of energy. The video incorporates a friendly, humanised tone of voice that makes viewers feel like they are being talked to – rather than down to. Context and content are perfectly balanced, and the enticing campaign visuals are carefully crafted to emphase the message rather than distracting viewers from it.
And another differentiator? For 99.9% of its running time, Edge’s video doesn’t feature a single tree or plant. Something that’s a feat in itself.
Biotherm Carbios, The 100% bio-recycled plastic bottle, AKQA Paris
Due to its excellent execution and cgi visuals, this video campaign definitely stands out. The creative connects the use of plastic in packaging to both brands’ identity throughout the video, and with the inclusion of the line ‘endless plastic recycling meets infinitely more sustainable formulas’; the message is elevated from a generic packaging redesign to a revolutionary partnership.
The split-screen format also helps to deconstruct the scientific processes and technology involved. It draws visual similarities between the two companies while aligning to a minimal, tactile art direction. Biotherm and Carbios have taken the devastating topic of global plastic pollution and transformed it into an artistic statement, demonstrating that sustainable packaging is possible, and most importantly, it doesn’t have to look cheap.
The video doesn’t make claims about changing the world. Instead, it’s a well-executed announcement highlighting the action they’ve taken to make a positive impact.
Lightyear, Solar Powered Vehicles, Plus One Amsterdam
Designed to help drive greater awareness of the environmental benefits of solar-powered electric vehicles; Lightyear’s video campaign is minimalist by nature and keeps its message front and centre throughout. The script itself gets to the core of the problem quickly and provides an answer in a clear yet subtle fashion, without using jargon or buzzwords.
It’s another honest and transparent sustainability video that focuses on highlighting the impact that a sustainable solution can bring. Rather than amplifying a ‘we can save the planet’ message, Lightyear communicates ‘we can solve this problem’, and – in turn – help the planet. Visually, it effectively balances between the sustainability pillars of people, planet and product – almost overlooking the vehicle advertised – there are only two shots of the car itself. The creative direction is designed to help the audience focus on the environmental benefits of their technology rather than the car itself.
Everything about this video feels refined, crisp and technical, directly aligning to the properties of the solar electric vehicles to further emphasise the car’s purpose. Instead of an ‘ice caps are melting’ and ‘forests are burning’ narrative, this creative campaign speaks to its watchers as adults who have a responsibility to address sustainability issues in a measured and tangible way.
The above campaigns offer some useful learnings for marketing sustainability initiatives. Transparency is key. As is the case for all communications associated with sustainability and climate action, remaining honest and authentic is the most effective approach to resonating with and winning over audiences.
At the same time, humanising content is essential. Human activity is at the core of the climate crisis and we all need to work together to solve it. Communications must be natural and relevant in style, otherwise it’s unlikely the people who really need to act will actually listen.