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Are consumers tired of ‘awareness’ messaging on Earth Day?

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Since the 1970s, the purpose of Earth Day has been to highlight urgent action required to save our planet. This is indeed a necessary and urgent cause given that the latest IPCC report was a damning reminder of the catastrophic impacts of human-led climate change. But it’s exactly this ‘urgent action’ from brands that seems to be lacking in Earth Day communications.

But like many one-off ‘days’ of the year that pledge to do good for the world, Earth Day has become a commodity of sorts for brands and organisations. Some initiatives and campaigns aspire to run throughout the year or are meaningfully tied to a goal, while others are a mere flash in the pan.

Either way, April 22 has proven over the years to be an auspicious calendar date for marketers—some also choose to observe the end of March during which Earth Hour might be fixed. With a surplus of brand communications during this period, have consumers become hardened when Earth Day rolls around each year?

Moving from awareness towards action

Suzy Goulding, director at MullenLowe Sustainability, tells Campaign Asia-Pacific that she’s not a huge fan of ‘days’.

“They encourage a lot of virtue signaling from brands without any real substance or action behind the messaging and pretty pictures. That said, using something like Earth Day as an anchor for a company’s sustainability commitments and actions can help galvanise customers and employees to get involved in some way by providing a point of focus,” she says.

Goulding argues that awareness doesn’t really become “stale” but it needs to be backed up by real commitment and action: “To build trust and credibility today, brands must walk the talk—anything less appears hollow and inauthentic.”

Awareness—in many cases—can be a powerful communications goal to shed light on issues, especially those that are often sidelined in mainstream media. But one could argue that climate change is no more a marginalised issue thanks to the work of scientists and activists. Brands too have extensively spoken about awareness on sustainability for decades—whether or not the agenda behind sustainability communications is to ultimately drive profit.

Graham Drew, chief creative........

© campaign

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