So far, 2020 has been a case study in global connectedness. The impact our individual behaviors can have on people, communities and economies across oceans and continents is clearer than ever. The novel coronavirus outbreak has thrown into stark relief a need for swift action to protect our planet while we still can: Critics have argued that the pandemic has been far more effective at reducing carbon emissions than government policies. But there are more than a few individuals—and agencies—out there doing their part to secure a brighter future.
“There’s literally nothing more important than the planet,” says Chris Eichenseer, creative director and founder of Chicago’s Someoddpilot agency. “On a galactic scale, it’s our home, we will never get another, and quite frankly, it doesn’t need us. It will move on with or without our participation.”
With Earth Day on the horizon, Ad Age Studio 30 talked to Amp members whose participation includes the sustainability-minded campaigns and agency initiatives they’re working on in 2020.
Brandon Cooke, Global Chief Communications Officer, FCB
FCB partners with many of its clients to create campaigns that address sustainability and environmental issues—most recently, at Super Bowl LIV, with Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold to launch "6 for 6 Pack." Less than 1 percent of U.S. farmland is organic, and for farmers, converting their land is extremely expensive and time-consuming. The initiative spotlights this leading organic beer’s long-term commitment to convert six square feet of farmland to organic for every six-pack sold, through funding and technical support for farmers.
Another campaign we are really proud of is FCB&FiRe’s "An Unrepeatable Photograph," on behalf of Trapa Chocolates. Now in its second year, FCB&FiRe Spain created a photo and a short documentary to raise awareness about the problem of deforestation caused by the indiscriminate cultivation and consumption of palm trees. A team traveled to the Indonesian jungle to take a photograph that could soon be impossible to repeat if deforestation in the area continued to wreak havoc. The photo was published in Esquire, Elle, Marie Claire and Cosmopolitan.
About a year ago, we took a hard look at what we as an agency could do to be more sustainable. The result was an initiative called the Eco Program. Launched at global headquarters and expanding around the world, this includes introducing reusable water bottles and metal to-go coffee mugs to reduce our single-use plastic and paper waste, distributing FCB-branded reusable lunch totes so employees have a convenient and eco-friendly option, whether they’re grabbing lunch from a nearby sandwich shop or bringing their lunch from home. Each year brings a new commitment level, and up next is total carbon footprint offsetting.
Natalie Troubh, Managing Director, Badger & Winters
We are proudly helping Beautyrest launch its new eco-friendly Harmony Lux line of mattresses. With the product rolling out just in time for Earth Day, our creative work will highlight how sustainable fabrics can serve the Earth while providing a luxury sleep experience. (A queen-sized Harmony Lux model uses the equivalent of 50 plastic water bottles rescued from the world’s oceans.) It’s an extension of our Beautyrest Sleep First Class campaign and brings to life the brand’s new partnership with Seaqual, a leader in the effort to capture and upcycle plastics from our oceans.
For us, Earth Day is truly every day. We use recycled products, minimize travel, make simple changes like reducing paper printing and have installed motion-sensor lighting where possible. When we redesigned our office last year, we chose decor from The Citizenry, which works with environmentally conscious artisans from around the globe to ensure that their furnishings are ethically crafted. That said, we see sustainability as a broad issue that impacts not only environmental issues but fiscal and social ones as well. For example, we consider our #NoKidsinCages created with RAICES (Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services) a sustainability campaign to protect the social fabric of our nation.
John Forsyth, Brand Strategist, ArtVersion
The new year has renewed ArtVersion’s emphasis on reducing, and eventually eliminating, total emissions produced by our organization. We have a goal of contributing to zero carbon emissions over the next decade, with complementing recent practices that have been established to steer away from unnecessary paper waste output or deliverables that are distributed in hard-copy format rather than electronically. We recently finalized a paperless administration model for both employees and clients. We’re conscious about taking precautionary measures to minimize the paper footprint we create. In addition to embracing direct deposits and abandoning traditional paper paychecks for employees, we’ve adopted an electronic system for ACH payments in our accounts receivables when clients are billed. This not only enables a more seamless transaction process in client relationships, but also cuts back on unnecessary waste output that could end up being harmful to the environment.
Chris Eichenseer, Creative Director and Founder, Someoddpilot
Our partner Saucony is engineering their first fully biodegradable shoe. We can’t wait to see this innovation come to life, adding to their sustainability line and helping lead the shoe industry to a more sustainable future. Running is good for you, and it’s time we figure out to make it good for the planet, too. We’re hoping to help them realize this goal, arriving late 2020.
To celebrate Earth Day, we’re starting a program to give our team one day a year to volunteer for any environmental agency or initiative they choose. Whether you can physically get out to volunteer, our continuing work with Patagonia on Patagonia Action Works provides a great way to make an impact, and it’s where most of us will start our own efforts. The program connects grassroots organizations working on environmental issues with passionate individuals who want to get involved.
We’re also moving into a new-to-us office space this April, repurposing an old industrial building in an effort to try to keep original structures alive in our neighborhood with minimal new construction. We’re putting solar panels on the roof and dedicating a third of our space to community events and pop-ups with our gallery, Public Works, including a major program dedicated to the environment this fall in connection to the coming presidential election.
Jackie Edmundson, VP of Business Operations, Facilities, and IT, Tinuiti
At Tinuiti, we prioritize talent over geography and support a work-from-home culture. In fact, more than 30 percent of our employees are 100 percent remote. This means fewer people commuting and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. We’re also 100 percent cloud-based, which improves our efficiencies and ensures we’re minimizing our carbon footprint.
Shawn Parr, CEO, Bulldog Drummond
In 2019, Bulldog formally launched our Impact Practice. A combination of subject matter research and our in-market consulting work helped us take heightened notice of the fast-growing consumer and employee imperatives to buy from, and work for, companies that are mitigating the environmental and social impact of their offerings and proactively making a bigger impact in society. We are beginning to see significantly more interest in this area across our current clients, and this year will continue our work with Bumble Bee Foods to help them authentically tell their sustainability story while advancing their work addressing labor practices and ocean plastic.
In our work, we had previously reduced the amount of printed materials and are now turning to an exploration of how we can develop and present more sustainable design concepts looking at overall project impact, materiality, packaging and the impact of production processes. In hospitality, this led to changes in everything from eliminating disposable plates and utensils and single-use plastic bottles to educating our team on what we can recycle in the near future. Travel has been the hardest to reduce given our belief in creating in-person relationships and a collaborative approach, but we are committed to offsetting or in-setting travel emissions. We are set to launch net-zero engagements where, to the best of our ability, we calculate emissions for the entire engagement across travel, paper, energy, etc.—and share or absorb the cost of offsets.
Carolyn Kremins, President, Skift
Skift’s role is to decipher and define news and trends shaping all sectors of the global travel industry. We’re committed to reporting the facts, and understand that sustainability is not only environment-related, but also people- and community-related. For example, we recently launched the coronavirus blog: our editorial team’s effort to keep the industry updated and informed to make smarter business, strategic and policy decisions in the wake of the current health crisis. Skift’s founder and CEO, Rafat Ali, has long said, "Travel is the most consequential industry in the world." We’re now finding out just how true that statement is due to a lack of travel. We will emerge from this crisis in a changed world: How will communities be affected? What will recovery look like? The sector deserves serious, unbiased, and sustained coverage and we’re committed to providing it across all issues shaping the world of travel.
Adam Lerman, Lead of the "Green Team" at Mustache, part of Cognizant Interactive
At Mustache, we think about our 2020 sustainability efforts via three buckets: production, operations and culture. We've implemented more sustainable practices when it comes to production, not only reducing waste on set, but creating a priority list for greener vendors and partners, substituting 90-page paper printouts with refurbished iPads and replacing plastic water bottles with reusable stainless-steel ones for everyone on set. We reference the Green Production Guide and incorporate these practices in our work as often as possible.
Before we implemented changes in operations, we needed to merge our sustainability goals with our company ethos. We created a brief mission: Create a more sustainable workplace by decreasing waste, increasing efficiencies and implementing sustainable and regenerative choices without sacrificing company revenue; create an environment in which sustainable practices influence positive work culture, productivity and healthy creative thinking, helping to create a more equitable workplace; and uplift all Mustache work-force sectors, including operations, production, post-production, creative, and freelance teams.