Cannes Lions 2022: Aiming to make every ad, a green ad by 2030

Aline Santos of Unilever and Stephen Woodford of the Advertising Association, made a rally to the advertising industry to help take on climate change

Jun 21, 2022 06:42:00 PM | Article | Raahil Chopra

On day two of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, the festival’s managing director Simon Cook took to the stage to appeal to the industry to prove to be a positive force to tackle the climate crisis.
 
Cook said, “Advertising professionals want to know what they can do to make the planet better now. Our industry must change quickly if we want to tackle the climate crisis. We have to see it and the ecosystem of technology companies, media owners, agencies and brands, have to come together to tackle this.”
 
He added that the role Cannes Lions aims to play is to bring the industry together to collaborate and tackle global issues.
 
Before leaving the stage for Stephen Woodford, CEO, Advertising Association, and Aline Santos, chief brand officer and chief equity, diversity and inclusion officer, Unilever, he asked the industry to use creativity to play and make a transition to a net-zero global economy.
 
Woodford then stated how the United Kingdom has a vision for every advertisement to be a green advertising by 2030.
 
Explaining this vision, he said, “This means that every advertisement has to be made by sustainable businesses, using sustainable production processes, distributed through sustainable media supply chains (where there’s a lot of work to do) and promoting more sustainable products.”
 
He also informed that along with the UK, the Republic of Ireland has also joined this initiative and called out for more partners to join in.
 
“We think this is achievable if we rally together. The scale makes this a complex challenge, but complexity with intention can help meet a challenge. The UK is a US$40 billion market and contributes only 5% of the world’s advertising. We have to take this global,” added Woodford before introducing Santos and Unilever as core partners.
 
Santos shared how Unilever formed the Unstereotype Alliance in Cannes in 2016, and how it can help the Net 0 project.
 
“In 2016, we commissioned a piece of work to understand the state of the nation in advertising. 40% of the women were not feeling represented in advertising and we wanted to tackle this. With Unstereotype we wanted to break those stereotypes,” she said.
 
Santos stated that as things were going well at Unilever, the company aimed to make this a collective rather than just a company-wide fight.
 
“In 2016, we were at the base of a big mountain. Many of the companies never looked eye-to-eye with us. But thanks to UN Women we made this dream possible. We found out that 50% of the ads we were doing for Unilever were following stereotypes. We realised we need a change. Now 97% of the ads from Unilever are considered unstereotypical,” she added.
 
She went on to reveal the five-steps Unilever took to start this journey:
 
1: Collaboration is the key:
She urged companies to put differences aside and put humanity at the top. She called for togetherness to create a dent in the world that we live in.
 
2: Partner to learn faster:
When one has companies from outside the company, it helps with learnings which in turn helps faster progression. She claimed that they started with 24 partners in 2017 and now have 230 partners.
 
3: Measure what you treasure:
She stated that measurement is a mantra Unilever uses all the time and stated that companies must measure the progress or lack of it.
 
4: Re-examine everything to drive systemic change:
Passionate individuals can bring some new ideas and movements, but companies need to create systemic change. She also thanked the Cannes Lions for stating that it won’t award work that has stereotypes within.
 
5: No seniority, no priority:
While she urged everyone to take charge and have accountability, she called for the senior management to champion it as change has to come from the top.
 
Woodford then announced the partners that have joined in to support the Ad Net Zero group which included Cannes Lions, Dentsu, Havas, IPG, Omnicom, Publicis, WPP, Google, Meta, Unilever, Sky, and IAA among others.