CANNES – The advertising industry’s effect on climate change was a big topic at this year’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, with plenty of discussion about how marketing professionals can include sustainability issues in their decision making.

John Osborn, the former chief executive of OMD USA and BBDO New York, wants to help them become more mindful of these issues as director of advocacy group Ad Net Zero. It partnered with the World Federation of Advertisers’ Global Alliance for Responsible Media (GARM) to create the first guide to sustainable media for advertisers.

The guide identifies 10 ways that advertisers can reduce the carbon emissions among such activities as media planning, buying and activation. The goal is to support collaboration among marketers, agencies and ad-tech companies in the effort to slow global warming.

“There’s great things going on, but it’s not nearly enough,” Osborn said in this interview with Beet.TV contributor Mike Shields. “We need to scale this and we need to do more because we can’t wait.”

Polarized Opinions

Some of the difficulties in inspiring more people to act quickly are that they have other priorities, and possible disagreements about climate change.

“If I walk into a room and I say the words ‘climate action,’ that room will divide into half — and that’s just a reality,” Osborn said. “Part of our challenge is to create a narrative and a reason…to get everybody on board.”

The promotional nature of the advertising industry makes its efforts highly visible among the general population, and with major corporations that spend billions a year to get their messaging out to current and potential customers.

“This industry serves big clients, and throughout history, the industry has come together and it’s done amazing things,” Osborn said. “We’re seeing it happen now, and it’s needed now more than ever.”

You’re watching coverage of the Sustainability & Responsible Marketing Summit at Cannes Lions 2023, presented by Adlook & Sharethrough. For more videos from Beet.TV’s Cannes Lions 2023 coverage, please visit this page.