Ethical Performance
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The newfound power of responsible advertising

December 2015

Recently, Europe has been witnessing major changes in terms of mass media consumption. This has led to a significant transformation in the purchasing behaviour of consumers, writes Andrea Henao.

Parameters such as sustainability, respect for environmental laws and fairer working conditions influence consumers’ decisions more than ever.

Consumers are no longer loyal to a brand for decades just because of an image; they have become loyalty switchers, basing their purchase on a combination of factors such as the price, the promotions and the image. However, we are seeing a new consumer mutation that does not take into consideration any of the three last factors but instead considers new parameters. This new audience can be called ‘sustainable consumers,’ concentrating their attention on the structural factors that make a product and a brand, such as its provenance, CSR policies and environmental impact.

Given this development, it is now time for companies to re-align their communication. It is interesting to note that in this new way of consumption, the marketing mechanism cannot work independently. It cannot, as in the past, create an image that is far from what the brand or product stands for. For once, the production has to be perfectly aligned with the communication. Nowadays information can spread virally too, at a speed never experienced before, and the brands which do not respect ethical engagements can be strongly sanctioned by consumers. We have recently seen groups of consumers effectively and offensively apply structured boycotts of selected brands with notable success, eg Monsanto.

It is also important to note that the rise of global consciousness is not only increasing in Europe and the US, but is rapidly spreading in the major emerging national economies.

360 Agency Berlin aims to help developing advertising sustainable initiatives not only in Europe but also in emerging markets, in order to incentivise emerging countries to produce in a more sustainable way. We recently visited LDCs (Least Developed Countries) in Asia, invited by the chambers of commerce in Vietnam and Mongolia to discuss the changes in global advertising and the European Commission initiative named GSP+.

GSP+ helps the least developed markets to export to Europe for free if they can prove that they are respecting international labour rights and global environmental laws. The second steps of the workshop actively linked sustainability to advertising by demonstrating to the companies that they would be then enabled to promote their goods in a much more impactful way.

When talking about sustainability and advertising, audit processes cannot be ignored. If we want consumers to trust and invest in sustainable products we need to prove that it is truly worthwhile. In view of this, 360 Agency Berlin decided to approach advertising in this totally different way by promoting only sustainable and eco-friendly brands, reviewing the chains of productions and CSR terms when possible.

A few global brands have already taken this new turn and we are certain that by consuming and advertising responsibly we can change the lives of thousands. It seems inevitable that these new ways of communicating, advertising and producing will not just be a trend but be part of a “sustainable” and structural change.

Andrea Henao is a partner at 360 Agency Berlin 

Europe | Corporate Responsibility


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