Here is what the Chief Editor of MM-Marcom World thinks about the evolution of communicating about sustainability in marketing campaigns.
In recent years, have you noticed a change in marketing campaigns in terms of messaging about sustainability? Can you tell us more about this?
Damien Lemaire: Yes, advertisers are of course increasingly realising, indeed some of them are even fully conscious and convinced, of the pressing need to reconcile marketing and sustainable development, not only by creating more responsible products and services, but also by changing their own day-to-day marketing practices.
Especially because studies are attempting to show that taking sustainability into account is a win-win for everyone, advertisers included. Take one of the most recent, for example, Getty Image’s “Visual GPS” survey of 10,000 people from 26 countries, in which 92% of respondents say that the way we are treating the planet will impact our future, while 66% say they are doing their best to reduce their carbon footprint.
Hence the conclusion of the authors of the study, and I quote: “consumers are concerned about the environment and will favour businesses that share this concern”. Resulting, for those companies that take the plunge, in not only greater engagement and loyalty, but also the possibility of an increase in revenue: the people surveyed ultimately declare that they are willing to pay 10% to 15% more for their products from companies that practice, are transparent about and demonstrate their commitment to sustainability.
So, in my view, one of the first advertisers to really get this, and it wasn’t a recent thing, it dates back to 2014, was Intermarché and its now cult “ugly fruit and vegetables” campaign. This campaign was based on the fact that for consumers, at least at the time, beautiful is better. This would explain, in particular, the colossal waste of fruit and vegetables in France, but also, certainly in Europe, the fact that fruit and vegetables that do not meet the standards are simply thrown in the bin.
Hence the idea by Marcel, Intermarché’s Paris agency, to rehabilitate these “imperfect” and “ungraded”, in a word “ugly”, fruits and vegetables, by celebrating, in a humorous way, their inner beauty and, more precisely, the fact that while they might be ugly, they are nevertheless just as good as the chosen ones and, most importantly, 30% cheaper! The result? 1.2 tonnes of ugly fruit and vegetables sold on average during the first two days of the campaign and an additional 24% in Intermarché stores, which quickly led to a shortage of stock.
“Sustainable marketing should now be a priority for all advertisers”
By skilfully combining humour and responsibility, Intermarché has managed to raise awareness and, more importantly, convince people that food waste is a problem that concerns everyone: producers, distributors and consumers. The campaign became a textbook example and has without doubt inspired many others since.
This may be the case with Ikea, to take a much more recent example, and its new communication platform “#EveryGestureCounts”, which is the common theme for all of the Swedish furniture giant’s communication for 2021, through which it is committing to a healthier, greener and more sustainable future.
In practice, this is reflected in campaigns such as “Find your rhythm”, which shows how everyone, even with minimal effort, can make their home better and more sustainable; the “Chase waste” campaign, which also encourages people to reduce the amount of food thrown away at home; or the “Revive your furniture” campaign, which, this time, suggests giving furniture a second life, by offering it to someone whom it’ll make happy… Not to mention the “Circular Hub”, a brand-new bargain corner in the brand’s stores, where second-hand furniture, as well as pieces that have been restored, reconditioned, dismantled and recycled, is offered for sale.
In short, I think that these two examples from Intermarché and Ikea speak for themselves, especially since they concern two business sectors at opposite ends of the spectrum. They perfectly demonstrate, by themselves, that sustainable marketing should now be a priority for all advertisers, because we all, without exception, have something to gain from it.