By Caroline Davison.
Covid-19 may end up being the kick up the backside that we in adland need to get our priorities straight. We’re now realising that the Climate Crisis will affect us all and change our lives beyond recognition. Many of us in agencies are questioning the meaningfulness of our roles, businesses and lives as we live in lockdown, and waking up to the fact that embracing a different business model is critical in facing the challenges that lie ahead.
At Elvis, we’d already started to look for a framework that would help us to explore what a new type of business model might look like, and we’re now implementing this. We decided to work to the B Corp model, and we want to encourage other agencies to consider a similar strategy.
Certified B Corps (Benefit Corporations) are businesses that ‘balance profit with people and planet.’ Brands such as Patagonia, The Body Shop and The Big Issue, which were conceived out of a sense of purpose, are all certified. It’s probably brands like those that have made you think that B Corp isn’t for your agency. Perhaps Covid-19 will make you reconsider.
I’m not, however, advocating for certification per se. Instead I’d like to offer up the B Corp framework as a tool that can help you have the conversations you need to be having within your company about post-Covid-19 business models, as its real strength is in getting us to think and act differently.
The UK government has committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050, which scientists tell us actually needs to be 2030. Few of us agencies have any idea of how to work towards achieving this.
There is no blueprint to help us get there at the moment. But Covid-19 has already taught us that the ability to think holistically will be critical to the transition, and that is something that we can actively start working on, right now. To change will take a conscious effort to reprogramme ourselves and our definition of leadership.
So, what if learning more about the B Corp framework was the first step on that journey to becoming carbon neutral? A way to start to imagine a whole new business model. Whilst B Corp isn’t perfect, engaging with the ethos behind it can surely only lead to a better outcome for all of us.
Elvis is like a lot of other agencies starting out on this journey, who have been unsure of where to begin, who don’t have huge sustainability budgets and, until recently, were worried about how resilient we would be to change. Covid-19 has shown that businesses can and will adapt for the greater good.
Let’s make sure we don’t waste this opportunity, and collectively start reimagining what successful business models look like for our industry in a post Covid-19 world.
Caroline Davison is managing partner at creative agency Elvis.