In the present era, sustainability is on everyone’s minds —and rightly so. These past few years, environmental and social consciousness have started to take over the media and dominate public conversations. People demand more from brands, with multiple studies proving consumers’ preference for purpose-driven businesses that align with their beliefs. Today, brand values -and consistency- are crucial when converting prospects to clients.
Having well-defined brand values is not enough; they must be communicated effectively. Traditional Public Relations (PR) campaigns are a great way to put your brand out there, grow awareness, reach new audiences, and establish trust within existing ones. For sustainable businesses, eco-friendly PR is a great way to connect with your target audience and develop a positive brand image.
However, with the popularity of sustainability, many brands have started to resort to misleading techniques, a.k.a. greenwashing. Being authentic about conscious communications is essential for an effective green PR campaign.
In this post, we’re walking you through eco-friendly PR done right. Creative, insightful, and memorable, these are our 5 favourite campaigns so far this year:
Denmark’s Elevated Benches
Danish broadcasting company TV2 launched the campaign ‘Our Earth - our responsibility’ to take a stand against the climate crisis. In collaboration with the municipality of Copenhagen, ten one-metre benches -85cm higher than regular ones- were placed in prominent parts of the city, fitted with a copper plaque that reads:
“Flooding will become part of our everyday life unless we start doing something about our climate. According to the latest UN Climate Report, sea levels are expected to rise with up to 1 meter before 2100 if the global warming continues.”
Being a very low-lying region, Denmark is particularly vulnerable to sea-level increases. These unusually tall benches are not only attention-grabbing; they also make a clear point by depicting the consequences of the climate crisis in a very straightforward and impactful way.
UK charity Just One Ocean set out to raise awareness of our shopping habits' impact on our oceans. Before London Fashion Week, they launched Fashion Fish, a luxury boutique store featuring “designer fish contaminated with microplastics”. The campaign aims at several well-renowned brands, using targeted puns such as Massimo Dori, Pike, Urban Troutfitters, and Prishark.
A significant part -if not the majority- of the microplastics found in the ocean are derived from synthetic clothing. With this PR campaign, Just One Ocean clearly shows the fashion industry's impact on oceanic fauna and flora while holding it accountable and challenging it to turn to more sustainable means of production so that we can save the Earth from becoming the most prominent fashion victim of all.
Woolmark’s Wear Wool, Not Fossil Fuel Campaign
Following a similar theme, Woolmark Company’s campaign ‘Wear Wool, Not Fossil Fuel’ uses models soaked in petroleum oil to illustrate the water pollution caused by synthetic fibre production. The campaign also refloats a scary statistic once published by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation: every 25 minutes, an Olympic-sized pool of oil is required to make synthetic fibres.
Consisting of a video ad and billboards, this dramatically graphic campaign aims to uncover the fashion industry's dark side by inferring a very clear message: wearing synthetics equals wearing oil. Woolmark addresses sustainability not by mentioning it through greenwashing but by showing the crude reality of the current situation.
Many people are not aware of the connection between clothes, their composition, and the impact their production has on the planet. This campaign effectively exposes the relationship between what we wear and the environment while introducing a solution to the problem: choosing sustainable, natural and biodegradable fabrics —such as the wool fabricated by the company. Timing is also a significant part of its success; launched just in time for the New York Fashion Week, it was able to irrupt and introduce itself in the public conversation effectively.
Heineken Brazil Chilling Beers with Solar Energy
Who doesn’t like to crack open a cold one during the festival season? Heineken Brazil calls out to sustainability by placing a giant solar-powered billboard right above Brewteco, one of the most famous bars in the Gávea region in Rio De Janeiro. It reads: “This billboard is cooling your Heineken. Cheers”. And just like it states, the power from the billboard is used to chill the beers from the bar below.
Heineken uses 100% renewable energy across its production and, by 2030, aims to take it to 50% of partner bars and restaurants in 19 Brazilian capitals. Set right in time for the Rock In Rio music festival, this campaign effectively takes advantage of the increased movement to uniquely spark conversation with its audience. It not only raises awareness of energy consumption habits and the existence of alternative, renewable sources but also highlights and brings attention to the Heineken Green Energy Program, making it a success from a PR standpoint. This action shows the power of combining a creative idea, great timing, and a desire to make the world better.
Ikea’s The Sustainable Everyday
In line with their sustainability strategy for 2030, Swedish furniture company IKEA launched a campaign to encourage its customers to live more responsibly, to achieve 70 million sustainable changes in the UK over the year.
Applying the KNUFF theory (which stands for behavioural nudges in Swedish), the brand developed several marketing actions to inspire people to make small, sustainable changes at home, such as extending the life of their IKEA products, considering lower-carbon holidays, cutting the time spent on household chores, or consuming plant-based food. The campaign was supported by creative resources such as their Spotify ‘Playlists that Save The Planet’, or their Choices for Change tracker.
In total, IKEA achieved 48 million sustainable actions, including 12,000 households switching to sustainable energy and saving 136,200 tonnes of CO2, and 65% of recipients engaging further with sustainability. Sustainable product revenue rose by 8%, while the brand’s positive impact perception increased by 3.4%.
Working with a green PR agency, you can develop effective campaigns to reach the audiences you want and create a community of like-minded people who share your core values.