05 / 06 / 2023

4 tips on how to make your agency more sustainable

By Ralf Lodberg, CCO & Partner

Debates at the Danish democracy festival Folkemødet and most recently the debate in Dansk Markedsføring about Greenpeace's proposal to legislate against advertising and sponsorship from the most climate-damaging industries show that the conversation about sustainability has truly entered the creative industry.

As an industry, we must go into that conversation with curiosity and find new ways to actively contribute to the sustainable transition. Not only within climate, although that is the most urgent agenda, but within the entire sustainability aspect i.e., the UN's 17 SDGs. 

Therefore, we must ask ourselves a very fundamental question; how can we contribute now and in the future?

I want to share four dimensions that help operationalize our own work with sustainability at Advice. Because I genuinely believe that as an industry, we need to share knowledge in this field, where (let's be honest) we're all happy amateurs.

1. Housekeeping

This is where we look at ourselves as a company: What are our ethical guidelines, how do we buy goods and sort waste, how do we transport ourselves, where are we in terms of diversity, and what certifications do we have?

The industry can do a lot, and we must remember that an agency is a company on a par with all others, and we have a responsibility for our own footprint.

2. Business approach

This is about which customers we work for and within which projects. For example, by using a screening systemand client-disclosure reports (as the IPCC suggests).

But it's not just about saying yes and no. It is also about how we influence our customers – which methods we use to help and nudge them to make sustainable choices.

For instance, how we train our employees, which tools we use and how creative we are in terms of developing concepts that shift attitudes and actions towards more sustainable action among our customers' customers; consumers or citizens.

And finally, it is a question of being able to document our positive or negative imprint. The latter is difficult, and at Advice,we certainly haven’t crossed the finish line yet. But it shouldn’t be an obstacle for getting started in the first place.

3. Contributions

If we have control over dimension 1 and 2, then we can move on and create sustainable contributions ourselves.

This can be through free analyses, small pieces of technology or completely new business models, which are intended to be sustainable from the beginning and help reach one or more of the world goals.

At Advice, for example, we were one of the first agencies to create a free sustainability barometer, which measures Danes' attitudes towards sustainability every year.

We have also developed the start-up SundhedsTV, which conveys the valid and hard-to-find health information in new, online formats.

But there are plenty of other good examples out there.

4. Philantrophy

Many in the creative industry have made various efforts with NGOs to support them during the war. It is an easy and efficient way to contribute as an agency. But it must not beat the expense of categories 1-3. If anyone, agencies must indeed be experts in avoiding greenwashing, pinkwashing, rainbowwashing, etc. But the world needs more philanthropy, so this dimension is certainly relevant.

This content is a sneak peek of a column written by our CCO & Partner Ralf Lodberg in Dansk Markedsføring. You can read the whole piece here (in Danish).