Will the IPA Media Climate Charter mean that agencies step up to their responsibilities?

As the IPA launches its new charter, has the industry reached a tipping point when it comes to accountability and action on the Climate crisis?

Nicola Kemp

Editorial Director

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The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) has launched the Media Climate Charter, supported by a media carbon calculator to help accelerate media agencies’ pathway towards Ad Net Zero. 

The move comes as business, regulatory and consumer pressure combine to place the Climate Crisis at the very top of the industry agenda. The new charter has been compiled by a team of advertising professionals, who are passionate about making a difference and supporting the industry in making meaningful changes to address the climate crisis.

The charter, which can be found at the new IPA Hub,  provides a clear framework for action and accountability.. The charter focuses on one of the core areas identified by the cross-industry Ad Net Zero initaitive; with a practical focus on ‘curbing emissions from media planning, buying and distribution’. 

The tool will allow the industry to measure the overall carbon footprint of the campaigns that media agencies plan and buy for clients across all channels, identifying where they need to reduce the climate impact of running clients’ campaigns. 

It works by calculating the carbon emissions associated with a media plan based on the media mix, and uses a range of data sources, including DEFRA electricity emissions factors and device power outputs and energy intensity. to determine the carbon footprint of a media plan at channel level.

Change starts with bringing people together. And harnessing their commitment into meaningful action.

Rob McFaul, Chair of the IPA Media Climate Action Group

The pressure for change 

Chair of the IPA Media Climate Action Group, Mindshare’s Rob McFaul, explaned: “There are multiple pressures on our industry regarding the climate crisis which makes this Charter so imperative. Firstly, there’s client pressure with many clients having committed to climate action and set ambitious targets including expectations from all of their supply chain to have similar targets, including their media agency partners. Secondly, our industry talent is awakening to the scale and urgency of the climate crisis.”

McFaul warned the industry that young talent, born with a deep awareness of climate change “do not wish to enter an industry that is not fully directing its creativity and strategic firepower to make a positive difference”. He alsp pointed to the fact that more experienced talent also wants to contribute to a brighter future for their children and grandchildren. He added:  “Crucially, our reputation is at stake if collectively our industry continues to remain neutral in response.

Action on climate change is also being spearheaded by progressive brands. With Sebastian Munden, General Manager and Executive Vice President of Unilever UK & Ireland, Advertising Association Vice Chair and Ad Net Zero Chair, pointing to Unilever ‘s commitment to achieve net-zero emissions from its products from cradle to shelf by 2039. He explained: “For the world to reach Net Zero by 2050, every part of our value chain will need to play its part, including the media in which we advertise.” 

To this end Munden says that it is ‘wonderful’ to see the lauch of the IPA Media Climate Charter. He added:  “I hope this helps our industry to rapidly shift to decarbonisation pathways. Our trials of the media carbon calculator have allowed us to make even more informed media choices and, equally importantly, have triggered constructive conversations with media owners and agencies on how we can work together to create a more sustainable media landscape.”

This journey to a more sustainable media landscape will demand action from agencies, brands and media owners alike. With a unique role for media agencies to proactively guide and support clients in making the most environmentally responsible media plans. With this responsibility in mind we asked the industry experts, who volunteered their time and expertise to bring the IPA Climate Media Charter together, if the charter will mean that agencies step up to their responsibilities as we face the climate emergency?

Florencia Lujani

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Strategy Director

Media Bounty

I hope the IPA Climate Charter delivers what advertising does best: new ideas. New ideas that give the industry tools to interrogate every brief, so that we can better define what it is that we want to help build with our creativity. 

New ideas about what objectives are worth chasing, so that we understand that success is defined in many ways, not just growth.

New ideas that provoke us to rethink our own polluting habits and those that we encourage through our work, so that in the next decade our output normalises behaviours that put the care of others and the environment first.

Agencies need to step up, because we're drivers of business, and our work should help clients grow in a financially responsible manner. This means understanding the whole economic and environmental impact of brands: because the climate emergency impacts every aspect of business, from supply chain to pricing strategy, to business models. Growing businesses today can’t be done at the expense of destroying people's wellbeing and the planet. It needs to be aligned with the social and ecological impact of the next 100 years: that's real long-term thinking.

Rob McFaul

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Chair and #ChangeTheBrief advisor

IPA Media Climate Action Group and Mindshare

I see the Climate Charter as the first important step towards the transformation that our industry will experience if it is to face into our climate emergency. 

We’ve already had significant sign-ups from media agencies, which I think provides a clear demonstration of the commitment of our community to act on climate. We hope that the tools and resources on this Charter will help us all define a new path towards a thriving zero-carbon world.

Furthermore, underpinning the Charter lies the IPA Media Climate Action Group, which I have the pleasure to chair. This Group brings together 24 committed individuals from competing agencies who actively share their experiences and accelerate ways for our industry to lean into its responsibilities. 

We have nine years to halve emissions. We just don’t have time to figure out sustainable transformation on our own. Collective action is required. And I know from my own experiences in bringing climate to the top of the agenda at Mindshare, GroupM and the wider industry with the Purpose Disruptors, that change starts with bringing people together. And harnessing their commitment into meaningful action. 

The Charter shows the clear first step. It’s now up to us all to define the journey and bring our agencies, media owners and clients with us.

Media Bounty have created a report on climate misinformation, which will be available as part of the  IPA Climate Charter and also available to read here.

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Climate Responsibility