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Managing Marketing: The Impact Of Net Zero Emissions On Marketing Budgets

Cristopher_Sewell

Managing Marketing is a podcast hosted by TrinityP3 Founder and Global CEO, Darren Woolley. Each podcast is a conversation with a thought-leader, professional or practitioner of marketing and communications on the issues, insights and opportunities in the marketing management category. Ideal for marketers, advertisers, media and commercial communications professionals.

Christopher Sewell is the Managing Director of the Gaia Partnership, Business Director of TrinityP3 and the creator of the CO2 Counter, to measure the GHG emissions from all marketing activities from media to point of purchase. Christopher developed this measure back in 2007. But today he shares the fact that if marketers do not quickly become aware of where in their supply chain their activities are creating GHG emissions and how much, they could pay for it dearly, as the significant impact of the cost of carbon pollution becomes a reality.

You can listen to the podcast here:

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Transcription:

Darren:

Welcome to Managing Marketing, a weekly podcast, where we discuss the issues and opportunities facing marketing, media, and advertising with industry thought leaders and practitioners.

Today, I’m sitting down with Christopher Sewell, Managing Director of the Gaia Partnership, the inventor of the CO2counter, and Business Director at TrinityP3 Marketing Management Consultants. Welcome, Chris.

Christopher:

Thank you, Darren.

Darren:

We go back quite a long way in a very positive way, but it feels like a long journey that we’ve shared together. And I wouldn’t mind starting our conversation back in, was it 2006 or ‘7, when you first had the idea that marketing needed a way of being able to account for its greenhouse gas emissions? But I think in those days it was their CO2 pollution was the language.

Christopher:

Yeah, it’s fond memories, Darren. So, we go back, it’s about 2007 and I remember I approached you. Being an old advertising hack of a certain age, we tend to actually go through your door and see if there are any opportunities there. And I remember you took me through all the wonderful analytics you were doing in various parts of the marketing landscape.

And I asked a very simple question, do you do anything on the environment? Any measurement or understanding of the environmental implications of all this wonderful advertising we do. And you looked at me and said, “No, we don’t. But that’s quite a good idea”. So, we do what we all do when we think of something, we go to Google and look for what calculators were available in that space and absolutely nothing.

So, I went away for three months and did some research and spoke to lots of people in the academic world and in the business world, and came up with a methodology for measuring the carbon emissions from all the various types of advertising; from production, all the way through to the media channels.

And from that, developed the CO2counter, which was a platform for measuring that. And yes, we were off and running many years ago.

Darren:

Well, and I remember at the time because we’re living in a world where there was the tech bubble of the early two-thousands, but the economy had been growing and people felt that they could look at and be talking about things such as the climate crisis.

But in those days, it was climate change and carbon footprints and things like that was what we were talking about. And people starting to think about what should we be doing?

You know Al Gore had done his big presentation and it seemed a really inspiring concept to apply a quantifiable measure onto the various parts of marketing because marketing is quite a big category, isn’t it?

Christopher:

Yeah. If we think about marketing as a driver of consumption — so, by its very nature, it’s actually got a few issues and challenges it needs to look at because consumption is one of the things that gives us climate change. But if we put that aside and we say we’re running businesses here, and we want to promote our goods and services, when we do it, let’s do it in the best possible lowest carbon way we can.

So, that was the pragmatic approach we had to this at the beginning was to see, can we do better? Can we eliminate some waste here? Can we give people some understanding of what the environmental impacts were?

And in those days, these were heady days back then. We even had a bi-partisan view in Australia that we should do something about carbon. A lot of your listeners won’t actually even know it had occurred, because it was such a long time ago. But people were actually united around the world saying, yes, this is a problem, we should do something. And then the world changed.

Darren:

Yeah, well, I’d just expanded, opened an office in Hong Kong and Singapore, literally two weeks before suddenly the economy crashed. In Australia, it was called the global financial crisis, only because we didn’t have a recession. The rest of the world it is a global recession. And suddenly, it was almost overnight. Priorities changed, didn’t they?

Christopher:

Oh, they did. As you remember, I went to Boston, we were invited because this was quite groundbreaking stuff we were doing; measuring carbon in marketing activities. We were invited to a big environmental conference, marketing environmental conference in Boston. that was the week after the crash in 2008.

So, while everyone was enthusiastic, they were nowhere near as enthusiastic as they were a couple of weeks earlier.

Darren:

Well, it was interesting, wasn’t it? Because I remember at the time, we did an exercise using the CO2counter on media expenditure. We took a 30-second ad. We looked at various high-rating programs, both here, and I think we did the same for Singapore?

Christopher:

Singapore, yeah.

Darren:

And also, I think we did New Zealand as well. And you’re getting some surprisingly significant numbers. I remember one of the top-rating programs was about 57 tons or … yeah, 57 tons of CO2 for one 30-second ad.

Christopher:

Yeah, it was Big Brother from memory. Yeah, we’re talking about Big Brother, which in the day, and obviously, having a rerun again, was lots of eyeballs looking at that show and the advertisements were appearing throughout the show as well.

So, we did the methodology around that and calculated what the carbon would be from the consumption by all those viewers of that ad. And it was a very high number, as you said, round about 50 tons of CO2 for one commercial.

Darren:

For one 30-second spot. That’s not a whole week’s worth, that’s one spot on one night. We did actually share this with the industry. And I remember vividly because I’ve recently seen it, that it appeared in Campaign Brief back in 2008. And it’s quite amusing actually looking back on the comments because they were not exactly supportive, were they?

Christopher:

It is fascinating. It was years ago and they were quite strong with their opinions on where we should go and what we should do with this information.

But I think even at the time, it had the right outcome, which was to make people start to think about what effect marketers had, who was selling green products or environmentally friendly products. Why should they not care about how they go about their practice?

And it seemed everybody just couldn’t believe that they would be doing anything bad in making these wonderful ads. Therefore, what are we talking about, saying there is an impact when we actually advertise our goods and services?

Darren:

Well, I remember one of the quotes was, “I wonder how much CO2 we’d save if TrinityP3 disappeared off the face of the earth?” And I was tempted to write back very little because we’ve reduced our greenhouse gas emissions as much as we possibly can without offsetting them.

But things have changed a lot, haven’t they, Chris? I mean, we’ve been through some dark times in that certainly, the Trump administration in the US and successive governments in Australia and various parts of the world, have not particularly driven a sustainability or net-zero agenda, have they?

Christopher:

No, I think the encouraging thing from everybody who cares about the environment’s point of view, is the term “net zero emissions” has come to the fore, most recently in the last year. It’s now in the headlines, people are talking about targets even in this country although it’s being battered around, and no real targets formed. But at least, it’s actually part of the conversation now.

Net-zero emissions are something that corporates are actually setting even if governments aren’t setting legislation to help them get there. So, yes, it has changed completely. If we go back a couple of years, there were far more pressing things. It’s obviously been a pressing thing happening in the last year around the world, but still, we see that people are talking about setting net-zero carbon emission targets, which is good for us all.

Darren:

Well, it’s interesting you bring that up the COVID pandemic because we’ve seen quite a few really big social issues get addressed; The Black Lives Matter, before that was MeToo, but that’s increased during COVID.

Do you think that the pandemic has made people refocus on what’s important to them beyond having a healthy economy and started to look at what are the other things as a society we need to address? And clearly the climate crisis is a major agenda. Do you think that has reset our values a bit?

Christopher:

I think again, in my personal opinion, individuals, when we all got locked up around the world and told we couldn’t go anywhere, it made us value more the limited green spaces we have in the city that we actually could see.

Therefore, we had time to actually smell the roses and have a look around and see what they were. So, it gave us a better understanding of nature and the environment we lived in. So, everyone became a bit more focused on what was important to us. It wasn’t the hustle and bustle of getting into town and having yet another cappuccino.

It was about the simple things in life and the environment and the air we breathe, the very simple things, but vital things. So, I think that’s actually got the focus back on it from an individual point of view. And I think that one of the few good things that came out of the pandemic also was emissions went down, less flights in the air, same in 2008 with the crash. The economy went down.

Darren:

Less traffic on the road.

Christopher:

But again, that’s not the world we want to live in. We should have economic growth and we should all live in a prosperous way, but it should be within our means. And I think we can do that.

Darren:

Now, it’s interesting you say that because a lot of people try and frame the conversation between it’s either the economy or it’s the environment, and the climate. And it’s not either/or, is it? It’s either and. So, it’s both, you can … there’s a way through the way of transforming our businesses, the way we work, the way we live, that can actually have a sustainable and successful economy, and protect and avoid the dangers or the damage of climate change.

Christopher:

Yeah, it is as simple as from an individual or a business basis, it’s reducing waste and no one wants to waste. And everyone years ago, got used to recycling. So, that’s an environmental good. We didn’t just throw everything in the bin. We actually were less wasteful, and we put it into recycle bins and we actually started moving towards a circular economy with that sort of stuff.

So, everybody can start to do those small things that improve the economic benefit for us all. So, and businesses doing the same. They don’t want to waste money and the money is completely linked to an environmental good.

Let’s do less wasteful things, let’s not throw things away. Let’s act more efficiently. Let’s plan things better. All those things are better for a business, but also, have a better outcome for the environment as well, they’re joined.

Darren:

Because all through this time from 2007 to now, there have been parts of the world such as the Nordic countries, parts of Europe that have been keeping the environment and climate change on the agenda and have been actively looking for ways to address this, hasn’t there? It’s not been a uniform global thing of, we just all turn to the economy.

I know when I was in Norway in Oslo and I was presenting to a client, a Norwegian company around the work that we did and presented the CO2counter, they spent more time wanting to talk about that than any of the other things that we actually did. So, there has actually been an ongoing agenda for change, hasn’t there?

Christopher:

Oh, it has. Again, as you say, especially in the Scandinavian countries; Norway, especially they did have lots of fossil fuel that they got out of the North Sea, oil. But they actually used that — the revenue from those goods. They realised this was a not a never-ending asset and they would be needed to do the right thing by the population. So, they invested it well, and they’re coming out now and are less reliant on getting that pumped out.

And they’ve got a very environmentally aware social network around the whole thing. It’s working well, unlike Australia, unfortunately. We just want to keep digging it up and sending it off and not think about what that actually does.

Darren:

But it’s also those markets where marketers are starting to embrace this idea of having to find ways of reducing their waste (to use your language), but also reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, aren’t they?

I mean, it’s more there because I know in the US and less so, the UK in the last 12 months has completely changed. But the US and Australia, the conversations with marketers is it’s still not the top agenda item compared to some of those European markets.

Christopher:

No, not here. But we find the targets being set by top corporations around the world, not necessarily in Australia, again — talking about net-zero emissions by 2030 or 2050 or whatever date they choose to pick. And that is then put in a focus on running an efficient waste-less business operation.

And every single area of that business is coming under the microscope, because if they can’t reduce the carbon enough to become net-zero, the only thing they can do at the end with whatever carbon they’re still counting in their business, is to pay money to offset that carbon, to neutralise it.

So, it is going to be a major cost of business. So, everybody is looking at all departments, be it the factory, be it in the way electricity comes in, be it the way that the transported and logistics areas go, and marketing’s about to go the same way. Marketing cannot be excluded. It is a major expense on a lot of companies’ profit and loss.

Darren:

So, the Australian government under the Australian Labour Party introduced a carbon tax; are you saying that the requirement to offset that, that you can’t reduce effectively becomes a financial penalty like a tax on business?

Christopher:

Yeah, but what’s happened at the moment, it’s not a government legislative thing they have to do. This is voluntary. So, we’re finding companies saying, we believe that we should do this as a part of society, the climate change is real. We will do something as an organisation. We also believe that consumers actually want us to actually be doing the right thing by when we produce these goods or services.

So, they are saying we are going to become net-zero, meaning we will not have any carbon in our business at all along the supply chains, be it on the way into the business or on the way out when it’s consumed, they want to eliminate all carbon.

To do that, they have to put everything under a microscope and buy offsets for the parts they can’t actually neutralise.

Darren:

And force change up and down the supply chain.

Christopher:

Up and down the supply chain, yes.

Darren:

So, Australia which sits there comfortably saying, well, we’re basically a mining country that exports for instance, iron ore, which is keeping our balance of payments in the positive — they will be under pressure up the supply chain up to the source to actually prove that that iron ore is being delivered with no carbon or greenhouse gas emissions.

Christopher:

Yeah, the iron ore is being turned into-

Darren:

Steel.

Christopher:

Therefore, the embedded carbon on the equipment is being used, it just needs … I mean, Australia, just needs to understand either they take responsibility for the carbon and do something about it, very difficult with a rock. But someone up the supply chain, be it the steel mill needs to be taking responsibility for the number of emissions to turn it into steel.

Or the manufacturer is building our Apple computers or washing machines or whatever needs to make it. As long as someone’s focusing on it and trying to reduce it, and then working with all the partners up and down the supply chain to understand that this is important to them, everyone starts to do something.

So, you’re not going to eliminate it. We still need steel. But if everyone starts focusing and saying, someone’s got to pay because we are going for net-zero, it doesn’t necessarily have to be all on me or all on you, but we all need to do our bit.

Fortescue Metals are doing it … they’re trying to put more electric vehicles — they’re doing as much as they can, but we still have this problem where we’re generating this stuff that there’s a lot of carbon, intensive carbon to actually make that into a usable good.

Darren:

And look, I didn’t want to necessarily go down the path of mining, but what I see there is something that I see playing out in marketing, which is a little bit like an attitude of, well, there’s nothing we can do about it, so why even bother?

But it’s a good example of, if you don’t bother, it’s going to jump up and bite you because at some point, someone is going to hold you to account, as the world becomes more and more committed to net zero. Then if you are playing any part in that supply chain are going to have to be aware of the cost of what you’re doing.

Christopher:

Yeah, I think coal’s a better one to discuss because yeah, we dig a lot of coal up and sell it overseas to people who are burning that coal to make that iron ore into steel. And that’s the one that’s going to come under pressure because that’s where all the emissions are coming from.

Yes, we do burn a lot to drive our power stations and generate our power. But obviously, the same thing’s happening, who’s going to be responsible for that?

Darren:

No, no, Chris we’re changing from coal to gas because that’s the clean fossil fuel. Didn’t you hear the Prime Minister?

Christopher:

Yes, I did actually. Yes, yeah, it must be true, then.

Darren:

Apparently, gas doesn’t produce carbon dioxide.

Christopher:

Well, Darren, you got to understand, it’s half as bad.

Darren:

Half as bad.

Christopher:

Or twice as good.

Darren:

Right. But it’s still not net zero.

Christopher:

No, it’s half the emissions coal has. But still, you would not classify it as good.

Darren:

Well, not when there are other opportunities, other options that are actually sustainable.

Christopher:

That’s correct, yeah.

Darren:

Yeah. So, for marketers, what does it mean? Because I know there’s a lot of marketers that their organisation may be committed to net zero, and yet, when they’re doing the work, they get to marketing and nobody can be bothered working out what the actual contribution is.

How would you go about or how do they typically go about quantifying or allocating greenhouse gas emissions for the various areas of the business?

Christopher:

Well, at the moment, there’s a carte blanche way of doing it. If an environmental consultant is in a big organisation, they’re doing a thing called a life cycle analysis, an LCA of the total business. So, they look at all the things that are in the company’s control and draw a boundary around it. And then look at all the emissions that are coming from there.

They look at a scope one, which is a generation of power. So, a power station would be sitting in scope one.

Scope two is the transmission and the usage of that. So, most advertising agencies would consume a lot of electricity to actually run the lights, to run the computers, and to run the servers that hold the digital documents.

And then in scope three are the things that sit outside that boundary, but are needed to drive that. So, that would be all your company cars, your planes down to Melbourne when you can get there. Obviously, trips we used to have,  when you’re doing your TV work – all that sits in scope three.

But the big one that sits in scope three is the media channels. When we go to market and put these ads somewhere, be it on Twitter, be it on Facebook, be it on a TV, be it on a radio — they’re the things that are quite complex to calculate. We have done that with the CO2counter, but that’s a micro-level. You can actually calculate it.

But what currently occurs is when they’re looking at the whole total business, they look at marketing as a dollar value. And it basically attributes 0.5 of a kilogram of carbon to every dollar spent. So, therefore, that gives you … if you’re spending a million dollars, you have a certain amount of-

Darren:

Half a million kilograms.

Christopher

Half a million kilograms of carbon.

Darren:

And how did this figure appear?

Christopher:

They just did a weighted average. Just input, output— they’ve done some calculations and made it a weighted average … and it is very conservative, put it on the higher side-

Darren:

Hang on, a weighted average for media spend or weighted-

Christopher:

For everything to do with marketing.

Darren:

Right, okay. So, that means that we’ve got clients that have budgets or media budgets, advertising and promotion, which is all of their expenditure.

Christopher:

Yeah.

Darren:

Let’s say a hundred million dollars. They are looking at 50 million kilograms of CO2 on that formula even if they’re not actually producing that much through their supply chain.

Christopher:

That’s right. That could just be, yeah, if it’s a budget, the people who actually sit in a desk would be included in those first two scopes they looked at. This would be external expenditure they would actually look at. And they don’t know where it’s being spent. They might be doing really good stuff, and actually thinking about how they do it from an environmental point of view, but it doesn’t matter. It’s treated in the same manner. So, it’s just a one-off figure.

The danger with that approach is that’s when the CFO decides that everyone’s doing a good job in reducing their carbon emissions within the business; they’ve changed the light bulbs, they’ve gone for green power, they’ve changed the manufacturing plant, it’s more efficient, more efficient equipment; they’ve used AV vehicles to actually deliver everything.

Then they come and tap marketing on the shoulder and saying, “What are you doing with that 50 million? You’ve still got exactly the same amount of carbon. We’ve been calculating it in this manner, it’s not gone down. We’re now going to have to offset that at $30 a ton. That’s a huge amount of money we have to payout. What are you going to do? I’ll tell you what we’ll do if you can’t do anything — we’ll reduce your marketing budget. That will reduce the cost of your offsets, which would be good. Would it?”

Darren:

Absolutely. Or the other thing is they’ll start taking the offsets out of the budget.

Christopher:

Exactly, yeah.

Darren:

That’s the other thing, is they’re not going to have a separate budget for offsets. They’ll say, “Well, you’re spending your 50 million, our offsets for that are X, we’ll just take that out of your budget upfront.”

It also, Chris, seems to me that it totally strips any opportunity for marketing to make informed decisions about where they invest their money in a way that still achieves their marketing objectives, but also reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

And I’ll give you an example. If there were two media providers, one who has done all the work to achieve net-zero, and the other who hasn’t, it doesn’t matter where I spend my money under that because I’m still going to get penalised.

Christopher:

Yeah.

Darren:

It sounds counter-intuitive.

Christopher:

It is rather counter-intuitive at the moment. Early on, with looking at media, it’s there to actually promote the goods and services of an organisation. It’s there to tell everybody about what a great corporate citizen this company is, but it needs to also be looking at how it actually engages with all the business activity it has itself. Currently, it’s not. And it’s being treated in that big sweep up of numbers and just get on with it and buy what they want.

They have to start looking at the way they buy in a less wasteful way. Again, it gets back to the original thing we talked about; marketing should be exactly the same. But you’re more targeted. All the mantra that’s been around, be targeted, less wasteful, get to the customer easier. That stuff will be good.

Darren:

Because I recall only recently, you and I participated in a conversation with a procurement team for a company that were very interested in measuring greenhouse gas emissions. They’ve actually got an environmental consultant in to do the work.

And it was interesting for me that even though you’d shared with them the methodology for measuring marketing greenhouse gas emissions, they were inclined to go, “Ah, look, it’s probably not significant enough to be bothered, so we’ll just apply this methodology.” Do you remember that conversation?

Christopher:

Yeah. But then when you get to scratch it, it was something like applying the standard methodology gave you something like seven times your amount of carbon if you went to the trouble to actually measure a micro level.

Darren:

That’s right.

Christopher:

So, macro, macro, a big number. Micro-level, actually dig below and have a good look of what it is, it’s actually not as bad. And then when you understand things, you’re not just looking at a dollar value, you can then go, okay, we’ve now got that down. That’s great. But that’s not the end of the journey.

The journey should be then, let’s look at what we’re doing because we’ve now broken it apart. What can we do better? Can we actually reweight this, with even less carbon — then we’re on the road to actually getting the carbon down.

Darren:

Yeah, that’s right. I mean, you’ve always said that the first step is to understand where in your supply chain, the greenhouse gases are being produced because then you can start focusing on the options to reduce them and in the process reduce waste.

I mean, the article that you wrote, that was last year in Mumbrella in response to a Coles moving from printed and delivered catalogues to electronic catalogues. The big point wasn’t how much greenhouse gas was in a printed catalogue versus an electronic catalogue, the real point was that they weren’t printing 5 million catalogues to have 4 million thrown into a rubbish bin in households around the country.

They were serving electronic catalogues to people that were actually opting in and wanting it either on their desktop or their mobile or whatever. It was reducing waste. So, this comparison of how many kilograms for a catalogue, printed catalogue versus an electronic is irrelevant if you’re reducing the waste and improving your targeting.

Christopher:

Yeah, there’s a lot of that. There’re unfair comparisons. But actually, it gets back to how many are actually read or consumed. And that’s where the difference was when you looked at it. Both the printing industry were arguing strongly that their product was more environmentally friendly than the digital one, but their comparison was incorrect.

They were just doing it on every single one of these catalogues, and actually it did have a low carbon footprint. Therefore, when you compared it, it was equivalent. And in the end, both were being done by Cole’s, they were doing a printed catalogue and an online one, they turned one-off.

It must have reduced the carbon regardless of the comparison. And obviously, from a business point of view, which is the important thing from Cole’s point of view, they felt, and time will tell, it would not affect their sales.

Darren:

So, there’s a really strong economic and financial argument for understanding your greenhouse gas contribution in marketing. Because what you’re saying is that it’s not just about finding ways of either reducing or offsetting, it’s finding ways that reduce that actually also reduce waste and increase efficacy.

I mean, there seems to be a huge focus in this conversation around what is it that you’re trying to achieve and what is the best way of achieving it rather than just, how do I get my carbon footprint down?

Christopher:

Yeah. It is about understanding. There’s definitely ways without changing the business outcome, which is to sell things. You can do that in many different ways until we actually start to understand the different impacts of different channels and the different impacts of the production for the content, for those different channels. Then you can do something about it.

Darren:

So, how’s the industry responding? How’s the advertising industry responding? Because I know there’s a lot of discussion in the UK.

Christopher:

Well, the UK, they’ve announced, the UK government, they’re talking about net zero as a country by 2030, I think it was. And the advertising industry, media, and the agencies, they’ve jumped on this. And they’re busily building calculators, they’re busily actually aligning themselves.

They’re doing it at a bit of a scramble because they’ve been caught a bit on the hop. We’ve been talking about this for 14 years and now they decided it’s urgent. But the intent is there.

Darren:

They’re reinventing the wheel.

Christopher:

And the interesting thing that they’re talking about is they’re going to bring all these mechanisms for basic reporting. They’ll report the carbon from the activity of advertising and media placement, but their looking  at putting a levy on. So, it will actually increase the cost to the customer, which is a bit counter-intuitive.

It should actually be back at the advertisers or the advertising agencies to actually think a bit more smarter about this is waste, we should eliminate this waste. It shouldn’t be a cost to the client for actually doing what is the right thing again, and helping guide our client to be a better environmental citizen.

Darren:

It reminds me and makes me think of the conversations we were having in 2007, where there wasn’t so much a focus on waste reduction. It was all about the cost of offsetting. And that just doesn’t make economic sense.

Christopher:

No, we shouldn’t be … in the ideal world, we should not offset everything, anything at all. We should measure and we should understand, and we should reduce as much as we can. If in a voluntary way we choose to offset, that’s a good thing, but that’s not the important thing. The important thing is to understand, and then do the best you can. That’s a good business outcome.

Darren:

Well, because the byproduct of that reducing waste isn’t necessarily doing less of something. It’s about doing something in a different way that is much more sustainable. And I’m thinking here at the moment people focus on cars for instance. And that the price of petrol will go up as the cost of carbon goes up.

But here’s the thing; that’s only designed not to penalise people that drive cars, fossil fuel-driven cars, it’s actually the incentive for people to move to electric vehicles. And that’s what we want, is we want an economic system that actually drives transformation to a sustainable net-zero world for marketing and media as well, that we need to have a system that doesn’t penalize the advertiser for wanting to advertise, but actually encourages for instance, media owners, to look at ways of becoming more sustainable and achieve net zero in their own right, don’t we?

Christopher:

I’m sure the media owners are looking at this, but once the clients tell the agencies to start giving them reports and measuring, and therefore, there’s a decision made on what channel to go down, this will accelerate the media owners and their various outlets to actually do even more.

And this doesn’t need to be in a combative way. It needs to be done so actually everyone understands we’re all trying to achieve the same thing. So, what can we all do together? We won’t say, we’re not using you tomorrow, we need to say where starting to measure this, we’re going to offset for a little while. But in a couple of years’ time, we actually want to be able to engage with you because it’s a lower carbon output for us when we advertise with you.

Darren:

And I think that’s a really important point, because as you said before, when the CFO comes along to marketing and goes, “You’re spending your 50 million, we’ve been offsetting this amount, how have you reduced it?” It is about working towards net zero. It’s not about achieving it today. You know, this is why we have commitments for 2030.

Christopher:

It’s a bit of a headline. Yeah, the net zero emissions is the headline that they’re all trying to do, but it will still be in the business. They’ll just go and buy some offsets to make it go away.

Darren:

Which is the cost.

Christopher:

Which is the cost of business. We’re better off having zero, which won’t be necessarily achievable, but in some areas, it could be achievable.

Darren:

Well, it’s a great mathematical term. I don’t know if you’ve heard of it — it’s called an essence asymptote. An asymptote is a line that approaches another line, but never reaches it. So, I think of net-zero as zero carbon, zero greenhouse gas emissions.

The asymptote is human activity, and at the moment, we’re at the zenith, we’re at the highest point. And all of-

Christopher:

Hopefully.

Darren:

Well, yes, okay. But all of our efforts from this point forward are an asymptote because it would be impossible, humanly impossible to reach zero purely by waste reduction. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to drive it as close to zero as we can to avoid the economic impact of having to offset it all.

Christopher:

That’s correct. Yes, exactly right. You get it.

Darren:

And the reason for that is because there really are more sustainable and efficient ways of living the life that we enjoy now without producing the vast amounts of carbon pollution that we currently produce, aren’t there?

Christopher:

Yeah, it’s exactly right. And we talked about it earlier. We lived a much simpler life when we were all shut down. So, that’s one way of actually looking at it. It’s like, what do we actually value? What can we actually do better? How can we reduce our waste? And again, it applies to individuals and it applies to organisations, and it definitely applies to marketing. We need to think about it. We need to understand it. And then we need to do the best we can.

Darren:

Absolutely. Oh, look, Chris, I’ve just noticed the time. I love catching up and having these conversations. It feels like a long time. We’ve been at it, what is it? 14 years.

Christopher:

14 years. Yeah, we’re trying to fight the good fight. I think we’re going to win this time though.

Darren:

Okay, well, look, thank you for coming and sharing and updating on where we’re at. Its clear marketers have a role to play, they just need to stop sitting by as spectators and start to jump in the game, I guess.

Christopher:

That’s right, Darren. Thanks for the opportunity to have a chat.

Darren:

And Chris, just a final question; Chris, are we going to make 1.5 degrees or we’re going to put up with a world that’s at two degrees?

Christopher:

Unfortunately, I think it’s two degrees.

Ideal for marketers, advertisers, media, and commercial communications professionals, Managing Marketing is a podcast hosted by Darren Woolley and special guests. Find all the episodes here

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    Darren is considered a thought leader on all aspects of marketing management. A Problem Solver, Negotiator, Founder & Global CEO of TrinityP3 - Marketing Management Consultants, founding member of the Marketing FIRST Forum and Author. He is also a Past-Chair of the Australian Marketing Institute, Ex-Medical Scientist and Ex-Creative Director. And in his spare time he sleeps. Darren's Bio Here Email: darren@trinityp3.com

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