Is Starcom’s attempt to measure ad campaigns’ carbon footprint a load of hot air?

Well I’d say it was, it’s hard to believe that the business of producing advertising is doing very much to destroy the planet.

But Publicis Groupe’s Starcom MediaVest media agency has teamed up with pressure group Envido to launch a panel that will assess the green-ness of ad campaigns.

What are they going to measure? The cost of transporting posters? The impact of lunch with the client if everyone eats meat?

It all sounds unbelievably silly to me. Anyway here’s Brand Republic’s report:

Starcom MediaVest Group (SMG) and Envido, which helps organisations reduce their carbon footprint, have launched a tool designed to calculate the carbon footprint of ad campaigns.

CarbonTrack is designed to help advertising and media agencies monitor and reduce their carbon emissions.

It evaluates the carbon output of an advertising campaign throughout its lifecycle, from concept to impact, and takes account of activity in TV, radio, outdoor, magazines, newspapers, digital display and search.

In a statement, the two companies said: “According to first estimates using CarbonTrack™, the UK advertising industry is thought to produce an estimated two million tonnes of CO2 annually, the equivalent of heating 364,000 UK homes for a year.”

Alastair Bannerman, chief client officer at Starcom MediaVest Group UK, said: “Every company with a carbon commitment will be investigating their supply chain to identify ways to manage emissions. Until now, there has been an important gap in this requirement. CarbonTrack™ will transform accountability as the world’s first credible carbon measurement tool for advertising campaigns.”

More than 100 different suppliers contributed data, from across outdoor, broadcast, magazine and newspaper media, to printers and publishers, logistics and transportation companies, and data centre providers.

SMG and Envido clarified that information provided by media owners was strictly confidential and CarbonTrack “will not allow for direct, named comparisons between various media owners”.

The methodology behind CarbonTrack will however allow companies to benchmark themselves against their previous campaigns and their peers.

Ifti Akbar, co-managing director of specialist energy, carbon and sustainability consultants, Envido, said: “With CarbonTrack™, advertisers can for the first time measure and manage emissions associated with their marketing spend.”

CarbonTrack was created and developed under the PAS 2050 guidelines, the international standard for the assessment of the life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions of goods and services, developed by the British Standard Institute and co-sponsored by the Carbon Trust and Defra.

Note that CarbonTrack has one of those annoying TM things attached to it. Which always suggests a money-making wheeze.

This isn’t what media agencies and their personnel were designed for. They’re supposed to beat up media owners and behave badly.

As retail magnate Sir Philip Green (than whom few people have a bigger carbon footprint) would say: do me a favour.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.

One comment

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    The clue is in your headline. The best thing agencies could do to lessen carbon emissions is spout less hot air. But I doubt Envido will be advising Starcom on that issue.