It’s not an easy and straightforward journey to becoming a socially and environmentally conscious marketing agency. As a service provider, the playbook is virtually unwritten, and since there are no frameworks for our specific use case, we’re learning as we go.
As we’re a small agency with a freelancer team, our Scope 1 impact is fairly small, so our focus has been on empowering our freelancer network (Scope 3) to join us on this journey and to reduce their personal business impact.
In our first publication, I mainly talked about our intentions for 2023 and how we’re starting this impact journey. These are a few things that we accomplished in Q3:
- Signed multiple sustainability commitments
- Skilled up on ‘Greenwashing’
- Dedicated attention to the Creatives For Climate Community
Taking a stand for the planet
During Q2, I started networking with many marketing communities involved in climate.
After talking to several groups, I determined that we needed to make a personal commitment as an agency to (1) refuse to work with fossil fuel brands and (2) commit to using our marketing talents for good.
We’ve signed these two commitments:
- The Sustainable Marketer Manifesto
- Creative Climate Disclosure
We also skilled up with the ‘greenwashing’ courses provided in the Cambridge course and the C4C community.
In this edition, I’ve dedicated more time and thought to shaping our PROMISES but also our intended ACTIONS.
Our journey to becoming a more socially and environmentally conscious marketing agency, while also reflecting and improving on our impact, will be the focus of this article.
Starting with the SDGs
I’m still working on our carbon footprint analysis, but during this quarter, I wanted to reflect on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Mainly, which SDGs were the most important to contribute my time and marketing ‘brain print’ (or talents) towards.
What is the marketing ‘brain print’? As marketing doesn’t usually have a high physical carbon footprint, the marketing ‘brain print’ is the thoughts, creativity, narrative, and talents that are contributed to climate topics (or too disruptive topics i.e. fossil fuels). Basically, marketing has a high impact on how people think, make decisions, and take action.
Because I learned about my marketing ‘brain print’ in the Cambridge course, I wanted to take a step back to see where my marketing talents can be a force for good (specifically aligned with the SDGs). This isn’t just about agency transformation, but thinking in a greater context, how can transform our talents and work into a force for good.
So, I started with: What SDGs do I identify with?
Goal 5: Gender Equality
- Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic, and public life
- Enhance the use of enabling technology, in particular information and communications technology, to promote the empowerment of women
- Adopt and strengthen sound policies and enforceable legislation for the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls at all levels
- Support women founders and CEOs through social media engagement, workshops, and collaborations.
- Use creative talents to bring awareness to gender equality issues (and important regulations in my region.)
Goal 13: Climate Action
- Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies, and planning
- Improve education, awareness-raising, and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction, and early warning
- Advocate for climate policy in my region.
- Dedicate creative and marketing talents to climate awareness, individual impact reduction, and sustainable marketing
Goal 14: Life Below Water
- By 2025, prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution
- Enhance the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources by implementing international law as reflected in UNCLOS, which provides the legal framework for the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources, as recalled in paragraph 158 of The Future We Want
- By 2020, sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts, including strengthening their resilience, and taking action for their restoration in order to achieve a healthy and productive ocean.
- Dedicate agency resources to local waterway clean-ups
- Dedicate a portion of 1% in yearly profits to ocean conservation projects
Goal 12: Responsible Consumption & Production
- By 2030, ensure that people everywhere have the relevant information and awareness for sustainable development and lifestyles in harmony with nature
- Promote public procurement practices that are sustainable, in accordance with national policies and priorities
- Encourage companies, especially large and transnational companies, to adopt sustainable practices and integrate sustainability information into their reporting cycle
- By 2030, achieve the sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources
- Use creative talents to promote relevant and ACCURATE information about sustainable practices.
- Encourage harmony with nature through creative storytelling
- Actively work with companies, large and small, to adopt sustainable practices and communicate them transparently and honestly
- Create a carbon footprint analysis (and be more efficient with the use of natural resources)
As the conclusion to our impact work in this quarter, I also wanted to craft our PROMISE to our clients and also to our team as we take this journey.
On our journey to becoming a more sustainable marketing agency, we make these promises to you:
1. Focus on POSITIVE IMPACT (& not only CAPITAL GROWTH) for people & the planet
2. Bring SUSTAINABLE MARKETING ideals into our client’s campaigns
3. Avoid working with FOSSIL FUEL companies
4. Reduce our IMPACT on people and the planet (i.e. marketing brain print)
Looking to the future: What’s next?
As we enter the third quarter of 2023, I will continue driving this sustainable work for our agency.
I’ll be conducting a carbon footprint analysis for myself, and our team will be asked to join along, too. Once I’ve identified those Scope 1 (i.e. office & materials) and Scope 2 (i.e. energy consumption) impact, I can start reductions — and then also turn my attention to Scope 3 (i.e. green vendor partners, freelancer impact reports, employee commuting, business traveling, and investments.)
Scope 3 will have the biggest impact on our agency, and I will honestly say, ‘marketing brain print’ will be included in our Scope 3. Because our talent contribution is where we have the most influence to go good.