Voices

In the Metaverse no one can hear you scream

No amount of wanging on about the Metaverse can distract from the urgency of the Climate crisis, even at Cannes, writes Media Bounty’s Jake Dubbins.

Jake Dubbins, CAN and Media Bounty

Co-Chair and Managing Director

Share


What does a lion, Paris Hilton and Brut. all have in common?

No it is not a new sub brand of cologne brought to you by the infinitely rich. You guessed it. It’s the Metaverse.

It seems that no one in Cannes can escape the all purveying odour of the Metaverse. Publicis have announced their Chief Metaverse Officer is a lion called Leon. Self anointed ‘Queen of the Metaverse’ Paris Hilton was in conversation on the main stage with Gary Vee who said that the industry needs to stop ‘pumping out vanilla bullshit’ and embrace Web 3.0. Brut. the app, not the aftershave backed by early influencer Paul Gascoigne, partnered with Fortnite to bring the Metaverse to the Cannes Film Festival last month.

I cannot work out if the paragraph I have just written makes me want to dive headlong in to find out what all the fuss is about or whether I just want to scream until my neighbours phone the emergency services.

There is another side to Cannes emerging. One that is waking up to the scale of the problems that we find ourselves in both in the industry and in society at large. Climate and inclusion are squarely on the agenda.

There can be no doubt that advertising is contributing to the climate crisis. We are literally the architects of desire.

Jake Dubbins, Co-Chair of the Conscious Advertising Network

No awards on a dead planet

There can be no doubt that advertising is contributing to the climate crisis. We are literally the architects of desire. Cannes, in part, is a celebration of really effective creative work, backed by media which results in business growth. The Purpose Disruptors Advertised Emissions work has found that advertising is adding an extra 28% to the annual carbon footprint of every single person in the UK. This inconvenient truth is getting noticed. Activists are out at Cannes in force. Gustav Martner of Greenpeace took to the stage to give his Cannes Lion back before unfurling a banner saying ‘No awards on a dead planet.’ 

Inexplicably he has now been kicked out and excluded from the  entire festival. That has not deterred other Greenpeace protesters who have stormed the WPP beach in protest at their fossil fuel clients and this morning scaled the main Palais building and replicated the well known ‘This is Fine’ dog in a burning house meme.

But it is not just the activists.

Those radicals at the UNFCCC announced on the eve of Cannes a new set of criteria that includes advertised emissions in the Race to Zero Campaign. Also included is the work of Solitaire Townsend of Futerra calling for disclosure reports where agencies would be compelled to disclose their revenue by industry sector, which would obviously put a spotlight on revenue generated from fossil fuel clients.

The Advertising Association announced that its fantastic Ad Net Zero initiative is now going global, with the intention of every ad produced being a green ad by 2030.

Jake Dubbins, Co-Chair of the Conscious Advertising Network

The industry too is now beginning to act. Over the past few days, The Advertising Association announced that its fantastic Ad Net Zero initiative is now going global, with the intention of every ad produced being a green ad by 2030. This is brilliant but focus must remain on the all important Action 5. It is all very well making green ads but if those ads are for Saudi Aramco then we are literally rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic.

The WFA’s  Global Alliance for Responsible Media has announced a new section on misinformation in its Brand Safety Floor & Suitability Framework. This will include climate misinformation. It comes hot on the heels of the Conscious Advertising Network’s latest Climate & Sustainability Manifesto which includes a universal definition of Climate Misinformation backed by climate scientists, big brands SSE, Virgin Media O2 and SKY and agencies like Havas Media.

Inclusion is also taking a far bigger role in the South of France. The WFA has run a number of events including their wonderful diversity ambassadors – Jerry Daykin and Belinda Smith – to support their Global DEI Charter for Change.

Twitter has been calling on brands to be consistent in their support of communities, to be prepared to hear tough feedback and to be transparent about their history, industry and how it impacts communities.

Reddit invited an incredible panel of female leaders to an event titled ‘A woman’s place is in the room’ with Goodloop’s Amy Williams and Conscious Advertising Network’s Harriet Kingaby calling for gender balance in leadership.

So there is lots going on but this is set against a backdrop of hard cold reality.

On climate, including the pledges made in the Glasgow Climate Pact at COP 26, we are still on track for 2.4 degrees of warming. Europe has been experiencing record temperatures in the last week and unless the Cannes delegates are experiencing mass cognitive dissonance, they cannot have not noticed that this is the hottest Cannes ever. One delegate I spoke to certainly noticed as he had to be treated in hospital for heat exhaustion.

Here’s what I would love to see from Cannes next year. Bring the outside in. Include the scientists. Include campaigners on the front line of climate. Include the Human Rights campaigners.

Jake Dubbins, Co-Chair of the Conscious Advertising Network

Bring the outside in

On inclusion, Campaign reported last week that the authors of a new book, Belonging, had found that despite more than £6bn being spent on diversity and inclusion initiatives, the workplace is still full of inequality, prejudice, discrimination, marginalisation and harassment. 

These are the two problems we should all be screaming and shouting about. They are inextricably linked. The climate crisis has to include everyone. We have to work together in the spirit of collaboration rather than competition. If we do not, with dwindling resources, increasing competition for food and energy, the risk of more conflict and a descent into fascism is all too real.

Or we could focus on the next round of Bored Ape digital art. It will almost certainly be different versions of the ‘This is fine’ dog. Or maybe an unimpressed ostrich burying its head in the Cannes sand. People will make a fortune as the world around us burns and our civil rights are stolen from under our noses.

Here’s what I would love to see from Cannes next year. Bring the outside in. Include the scientists. Include campaigners on the front line of climate. Include the Human Rights campaigners. Include the activists scaling the Palais. Listen to them. Learn from them.

Let’s use this incredible meeting of minds to collaborate on solving the biggest brief of our lives before we start being distracted by the siren calls of Metaverse, NFTs and Web 3.0.

Maybe the Metaverse will exist on a dead planet. We just won’t be there to scream into the void (or monetise it).

Guest Author

Jake Dubbins, CAN and Media Bounty

Co-Chair and Managing Director

About

Jake is Co-chair of the Conscious Advertising Network (CAN), a cross industry group that believe that the ethics must now catch up with the technology of modern advertising. As well as being Co-founder and managing director of Media Bounty, a creative social media agency with a conscience. Advising clients as diverse as Bodyform, method, ecover and The Meatless Farm on using social to drive long-term brand growth. Jake is a passionate advocate of business as driver of social good. Media Bounty has funded the purchase of nearly 700 acres of critically threatened habitat through World Land Trust and the agency team volunteer for environmental, homeless and social cohesion charities.

Agencies Featured