Sustainability in the communications industry was one of the predominant topics at the HORIZONT Congress, which was held in Frankfurt recently. One of the issues Burkhard Grassmann (BCN Managing Director) discussed as part of the panel talk entitled ‘How companies can use their climate neutrality in communication’ was how BCN approaches the topic of sustainability in marketing. Here are the most important statements once again:
What role does sustainability play in marketing? What do advertising customers expect?
The majority of consumers today expect sustainable production conditions, products and brands. The target audience is growing steadily – and with it the pressure on companies to take a position in terms of it. Of course, our advertising partners have to react to this and we have to react along with you. Companies are at different stages of maturity in their transformation and we provide them with the support they need. The topic of sustainability and the question of how to approach the topic communicatively have therefore been part of our everyday lives for a very long time. Our customers expect specific communication solutions from us.
Sustainability is a highly sensitive topic and subject to much critical attention. Accusations of greenwashing come quickly, especially in advertising. How do you deal with companies that want to communicate an air of sustainability but are not sustainable themselves?
There are customers who are not climate neutral, but they are in an incredibly exciting transformation process that is important for all of us. After all, the impact is a completely different one when the major players change something. It would not be very wise to ignore it here. We support companies that are serious about communicating their goals. To this end, we are in constant exchange with our customers and face their challenges together.
What are the communication approaches that BCN offers its customers in this regard?
Complex topics like sustainability and the times we live in, with all their challenges, have changed the way we work entirely. We get down to the core of the matter before moving on to implementation. Take, for example, the Creative Day, one of our various formats for people to meet in person. Our experts prepare intensively for the exchange. What are our customer’s challenges and how can we tackle them together? Sometimes it takes up to a year of intensive preparation before it is implemented. Two-thirds of our business is solution-based, which means we follow approaches based on the specific challenges of our customers. Numerous experts are needed to advise, design and implement holistically in order to ensure this. It also requires a portfolio of publishers and partners with a wide reach and unique brands that are relevant across all channels. The requirements for the implementation of campaigns have also changed considerably. Holistic project management and integrated dashboards on media KPIs and advertising effectiveness are part of the status quo.
What would you advise companies to do?
Be bold! For example, we have seen that customers who don’t attend our For Our Planet, our sustainability publishing programme with its own magazine and conference, because they do not feel confident in the demanding environment. I think it is wrong not to talk about what you have set out to do. We will not get anywhere if we only look at how things are now. Climate and environmental protection is a topic that needs to be talked about! It is not important for a company to have already achieved everything possible, because consumers also reward the efforts made on their way to doing so.