It’s time for marketing to step up its sustainability game

Alice Date and Lucy Baumgartner share the benefits of aligning marketing and sustainability teams for improved brand effectiveness and the environmental benefits of out-of-home

Alice Date and Lucy Baumgartner

Group Sustainability Manager and Effectiveness Manager Talon


Sustainability is about understanding the impacts of and to a business, beyond financial implications, and whilst accountability can lie with an individual, responsibility belongs to all areas of the business.

We know that sustainability is becoming more prominent in marketing strategies with 43% of brands having it as a key priority – up from 26% in 2021 according to AdNetZero.

This increasing priority demonstrates that brands are starting to understand the critical role marketing plays in supporting the sustainability initiatives of the business. It’s, therefore, a matter of when, not if, sustainability becomes part of the Marketing remit; and the sooner the better as we start to understand the mutual benefits of these two business functions bringing their heads together.

The responsibility of the marketing team to embed sustainability falls into two camps; the message itself and the way the message is delivered.

The message itself

For brands, the initial focus on sustainability has likely been concentrated at the product or operational level and rightly so - without a product or business encompassing sustainability, the marketing team cannot authentically publicise it. It must be marketing’s role, however, to track the integration of sustainability within a brand and craft campaign messages accordingly.

Marketing is in a unique position to use their skills to progress the sustainability agenda in many ways: through communicating changes a business has made to make its products or operations, by outlining to consumers why the brand is a more sustainable choice or simply aiming to increase public awareness and engagement in sustainably.

But what is the return that brands can expect from focusing their marketing efforts and communications on sustainability? Talon’s latest research shows sustainability messaging increases effectiveness across the brand funnel on average by +54%.

According to our research, for campaigns which included sustainability messaging, Out of Home (OOH) delivered uplifts of:

●      +7% ‘are leaders in sustainability’

●      +8% ‘produces sustainable products/services’

●      +12% ‘has a positive impact on people, the environment and economy’

●      +12% ‘I trust they take responsibility for sustainability’

With 58% of consumers giving preference to environmentally friendly brands, it is clear why investing in and prioritising sustainability messaging delivers a strong return for your brand and higher levels of affinity.

The way the message is delivered

The social and environmental impacts across a campaign lifecycle is the next layer of a sustainable approach for marketing teams to consider. This includes consideration of the media mix, analysing quantity and quality of inventory and working to minimise negative environmental impacts - for example by decarbonising media plans. These considerations are going hand in hand with the objectives being outlined by the sustainability teams which again reinforces the mutual benefits.

As a channel with sustainability at the heart, OOH has great social and environmental credentials to stand behind - 46% of revenue invested in OOH goes back into the public services, infrastructure, and communities and per impression, OOH has been ranked the lowest emitting channel. Considering these credentials alongside being the traditional trust building format, OOH is uniquely positioned to deliver brand’s sustainability credentials. Further to this, OOH plans can be optimised to deliver effective sustainability messaging across environments. In public transport environments, OOH reaches audiences in a mindset that is more receptive to sustainability messaging - with public transport formats delivering 2.5x stronger uplifts vs roadside. This also presents an opportunity for brands when using roadside OOH, to engage and educate drivers and passengers on the importance of sustainability.

Your game to play

We are all architects of desire seeking to normalise aspirational lifestyles and that’s why we need marketers’ creative thinking and skills to translate sustainability messaging into the change our world needs to see.

Whilst the link between marketing and sustainability functions is inevitable, the closer these teams are aligned on their goals, the bigger the benefits. Currently, only 8% of ads include a green message so this a greenfield opportunity you should seize – no pun intended

Guest Author

Alice Date and Lucy Baumgartner

Group Sustainability Manager and Effectiveness Manager Talon


Alice Date is Group Sustainability Manager at Talon. Alice Date joined Talon following four years in Australia at the transformation consultancy firm, EY, where she supported the implementation of sustainable practices through strategy development and reporting. Alice is focused on embedding Talon's global sustainability strategy across the business, building awareness of sustainability in and outside of the business and contributing to global industry working groups such as AdNetZero, GARM and IPA Climate Action. Lucy Baumgartner is Effectiveness Manager at Talon. In her role, Lucy contributes to building a strong culture of effectiveness and has helped to transform measurement from an add-on to a key client focus. With an analytical and client-centric approach, she has embedded the sustainability measurement framework into client research studies.