You must be truthful with any sustainability claims you make in any marketing campaign you are responsible for on behalf of your client. An internal greenwash check is absolutely key and should be the first thing you are considering.
This was the central message set out by Matt Hicks, Strategy Director at B2B marketing agency Lesniak Swann, during yesterday’s CMA webinar, chaired by his Managing Director, Alex Swann.
“If there’s a gap between your claim and the reality, then it’s not something you should be communicating on,” said Matt. “If you can be truthful about it, then it should be on the table.”
Matt gave examples of campaigns where big companies had drawn heavy criticism for making false claims. Ryan Air had adverts banned in the UK for using a strap line claiming they had the lowest emissions of any airline in Europe and Coca-Cola positioned a product called Coca-Cola Life using visual signifiers to suggest it was entirely natural despite the fact they had tweaked just one of the ingredients.
You also need to make sure your audience is interested and have an interest in what you are communicating. This needs to be done without using technical gobbledygook or trying to conceal the fact you don’t really have anything to say.
When in doubt, there is help available. The ASA provides guidance specifically on sustainability and how to qualify factual statistical claims and ensure they are linked to a verifiable sustainability strategy.
Just as important in our sector is the Code for Construction Product Information (CCPI) that provides clear guidelines on what you need to follow related to sustainability. You need to be clear, you need to be accurate, you need to be up-to-date, you should be accessible and you must not be ambiguous.
“If you’re not following these guidelines, it’s time to stop and perhaps rework what you are doing, but do not continue to communicate until you can do it in the right way”.