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In the past few years, sustainability and brand purpose have been terms heard by marketers time and again, as brands try to reorient themselves towards the changing attitudes of consumers.

The Advertising Association’s Ad Net Zero report states that the sector has to reduce its carbon output at least by 25% by 2025. This shows that agencies have to go further than ever before, moving away from ad-hoc purpose or sustainability initiatives to create permanent change.

Experiential and events agencies are a critical part of the conversation. In Event Academy’s 2020 report, the majority of those surveyed said that making events environmentally sustainable was their most important issue to address in the future. The reason is that the single-use events industry is wasteful by default: shipping sets, people and gear by road, air and sea leaves a heavy carbon footprint.

This is bad for brands and isn’t sustainable in any sense. It’s no use for a brand to say it cares about the planet, only to showcase a massive event or experiential campaign and ignore the waste that comes from it. This is going to be even more important in the near-future as we emerge from global lockdowns and the demand for physical events returns.

Experiential and events producers, such as ourselves at KGA, are tackling this issue by going completely green and carbon neutral - not only internally as a company, but ensuring all of their events are 100% carbon neutral too.

Our decision to go 100% carbon neutral was made by founder Dan Keam-George in 2020 at the height of lockdown.

Posting on the company’s blog, he wrote: “Summer 2020 was a big environmental wake-up”, and that the pandemic brought about a fresh opportunity to reengage with sustainability objectives as the planet “took a palpable deep breath”.

The result was to completely review the company’s carbon output, being independently assessed and moderated under the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS), lead by Carbon Footprint Ltd. The plan from then on was to not only make KGA 100% green, it was also to make sure all of their events’ carbon output would be neutralised too. The upshot for brands who work with the agency is that any event or campaign would benefit the planet, not harm it.

This presents an easy win for brands. With the flick of a switch, working with a carbon neutral agency immediately creates a positive environmental impact for an event, without having to do any heavy-lifting. It’s also a positive story, which can contribute to achieving a brand’s CSR objectives, without having to invest any time or effort in working out the carbon maths. Also, it doesn’t detract from producing a great event or create any new barriers to doing good work. It just happens.

With experiential agencies that go green, they match a wider industry move to ensure brands are becoming carbon neutral in their advertising and media spend. Iris Media recently ran an online event on behalf of purposedisruptors.org, a collective of advertisers focussed on reshaping the industry to tackle climate change. Their initiative ‘Ecoffectiveness‘ actively promotes how having a positive environmental impact can be a viable metric for campaign effectiveness.

As this conversation develops, experiential marketing agencies have a crucial role to play in ensuring brands and agencies are doing their utmost to protect the planet. The timing of this action could not be more prevalent or necessary, and helps to take the sector beyond ad-hoc brand purpose or sustainability initiatives. Ultimately, this move creates lasting change that’s an easy win for brands as well as a big win for the planet.

Dan Keam-George, founder and director at KG Agency