By Todd Bolin  /  Chief Executive Officer

Campaigns and Carbon Footprint

A SUSTAINABILITY CALCULATOR THAT MEASURES THE CARBON FOOTPRINT OF A CAMPAIGN

It’s no secret that for the most part, the U.S. wouldn’t be considered a leader in terms of corporate sustainability. However, over the past decade corporate America has begun to embrace sustainable development goals (SDGs). In fact, a recent PWC survey found that 72% of U.S.-based ‘global’ companies now include SDGs in their annual corporate or sustainability reports.

With momentum building in the c-suite, I went looking for way to measure the impact of marketing and creative campaigns we develop for our clients. From websites we create, to media we run, to brochures we print, everything we make and do for clients contributes to a carbon footprint. The challenge is quantifying it, right? And wouldn’t clients with commitments to SDG’s be eager to know the carbon impact of their marketing programs? Plus, having that information at the planning stages would allow us to potentially adjust our campaign tactics to create less carbon. Armed with specific knowledge of carbon impact, marketers would also be able to fund offsets.

So, I turned to Tribe Global, our international network of independent agencies for ideas. It’s no surprise that the French are way ahead in this area and sure enough, longtime Tribe member Dagré, based in Strasbourg, France has developed a carbon footprint calculator they call Bilobay for low carbon communications. Brilliant! For the last 9 years, Bilobay’s algorithms have been fine tuned to incorporate carbon emission estimates for activities from creative concepting and design through execution, even addressing campaign ‘end of life’ disposal. And while we tend to think of digital as greener, it’s more complicated than that. The algorithm incorporates where servers are located, the amount of electricity consumed, and what happens to digital assets that remain stored online well into the future for such things as website builds, hosting, social and online banner campaigns.

It’s important to note that France has recently identified the advertising industry as a ‘strategic contributor’ in achieving nation-wide carbon neutrality by 2050. The time has come for all agencies and marketers to become part of the solution and like so many things, awareness and knowledge is step one. We’ve built our agency around a guiding purpose to strive for better.™ Exploring and adopting sustainable business practices for ourselves and for the marketing and advertising programs we create for clients seems to be a rather logical but also vital expression of that purpose. If you’d like to like to learn more or perhaps determine the carbon footprint for your next marketing campaign with the Bilobay tool, contact me at tbolin@bolinagency.com.

INTERESTING FACTS AND FIGURES

Baby Shark Dance (the most-watched video on YouTube with over 8 billion views) generated the same amount of carbon as a nuclear power plant does in 3 years

Digital technology represents 4% of carbon emissions worldwide

A typical social media user creates as much carbon as a 560-mile car trip

An out-of-home campaign with 5,000 postings (equivalent to a nationwide billboard campaign in France) is equal to traveling 46,000 miles by car