Hello, sustainable advertising

One of the advertising world’s most famous quotes came from Henry Ford, who said, “A man who stops advertising to save money is like a man who stops the clock to save time”.

Most marketing experts would argue that this still holds true. But given the urgency of the climate predicament and the amount of time and effort it’s going to take to get us out of it, we reckon that if Ford were alive today, he might be more inclined to say, “A person who avoids going green to save time/money is like a person who avoids thermometers to save the planet.”

In other words, we can’t afford to not go green – because if the planet is a sizzling, uninhabitable ball, there’ll be no-one to advertise to! Going green is in everyone’s interests.

Luckily, there’s a lot of help out there for the advertising industry, which is what this blog is about.

As part of our ongoing efforts to reduce UK Locations’ impact on the planet and help our clients meet their sustainability goals, we’ve followed up our ALBERT training for the film and TV world, with the AdGreen equivalent (which, like the former, is both brilliant and free!).

Below, you’ll find an overview of what we learnt, discover how UK Locations and its partners are playing their part, and how our efforts can help you.

The ad world’s environmental footprint
According to AdGreen, the industry-funded body set up to enable the advertising production community to measure and reduce their carbon footprint, “for an average television commercial shoot day with around 70 client, agency, crew and cast, you could estimate 1 – 2 tonnes co2e”.

If that figure doesn’t mean much to you, then bear in mind that 1 tonne of co2 (which is the same as co2e, minus the carbon dioxide ‘e’quivalents) is the same as driving 6000km in a diesel car or charging 121,643 smartphones! And that’s just a single one-day shoot.

Unfortunately, we don’t know how many total hours of advertising production happen in the UK each year because no-one’s been measuring it. But AdGreen says that in 2020, “advertising spend on UK productions was estimated to be almost £450 million pounds.” So, it’s safe to say there’s plenty of scope for reducing the industry’s impact on the environment.

Industry obligations
At the moment, there’s no official pressure on advertisers to reduce their carbon emissions, unlike film and TV productions for the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, UKTV, Sky and Netflix, which need to be Albert certified (something they get after calculating their production’s carbon footprint, devising a detailed plan for reducing its Co2 emissions, and then offsetting what’s left with a payment).

But given that AdGreen describes itself as “part of the Advertising Association, working in partnership with BAFTA and albert, and supported by leading industry players who share our vision” and the increasing urgency of the climate crisis, it’s safe to say that it’s only a matter of time.

Get ahead of the game with UK Locations
When you work with UK locations, you’re working with a company that has a genuine commitment to lowering its impact on the planet (in fact, we’re currently working towards B Corp Certification, which will place a legal obligation upon us to fulfil our promises). Here’s a summary of what we’re doing in-house, what our partners are doing, and how all this can help you, our clients.

UK Locations as a company
During both AdGreen and Albert’s free online training events, we discovered that transport is one of the biggest contributors to a production’s carbon footprint. For us, this was good news, because a lot of the measures we’ve already implemented are designed to help us and our clients reduce their travel.

  • We group our photo shoots at newly acquired locations so we’re not making unnecessary journeys
  • We work from home on Fridays so no-one on the UKL team has to travel
  • We’re focusing on partnering with location owners whose properties are within an hour of production cities, so production teams needn’t travel far
  • We’re rolling out our 360° virtual recces across all our locations, so location scouts can cut down on the number of trips they make (see below for more info)
  • We’re acquiring an increasing number of locations with multiple backdrops, where our clients can maximise their shoots (more info below)

360 virtual recces
Head over to our location library and you’ll find that an increasing number of location profiles now include our industry-first 360° virtual recces. Initially set up as an alternative to in-person recces at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, they were so popular that we kept them – and they’ve been saving location scouts time and carbon ever since!

Multi-backdrop locations
UK locations is known for hand-picking locations that serve its clients aesthetic and logistical needs – highly-styled high-end locations outside of London (but close to other production hotspots), with flexible owners who understand the need for fast and easy access. 

Because we now consider carbon reduction as a ‘need’, we’ve been adding more and more locations to our library that have multiple back-drops, so you can maximise your shoot days. Location 2898 in Cheshire, for example, includes rooms and open spaces that are light, bright and playful, and others that ooze muted sophistication. 

Locations 2867 and 2897, also in Cheshire, are equally versatile, with the former offering everything you’d expect from a ‘super home’, and the latter bringing period features and modern living together in all kinds of interesting ways.

UK Locations’ forward-thinking partners
It’s not just UK Locations that’s doing its bit to help reduce the ad industry’s carbon footprint. Some of our location partners are doing really amazing things, too!

Twin eco homes, Sheffield
Take locations 2734 and 2735, for example. Based in Sheffield, these seriously cool houses – built on the site of a former corn mill – are owned by identical twins Nik and Jon Daughtry. 

What started as a dream to build their family homes next to each other turned into an award-winning example of low maintenance living. With underfloor heating and hot water systems that use energy extracted from the shared pond, and a thick layer of insulation beneath black corrugated steel cladding, both houses are highly energy efficient.

Yet both locations have their own unique appeal, too, with 2734 featuring more artificial light and cooler tones throughout than sunlit sister home, 2735. Talk about the perfect balance.

Green commercial space, Manchester
Then there’s our partner, Rob, who manages location 2496, a huge industrial building in Manchester, which is often used for large productions because of the space and creative scope it offers. Rob helps productions reduce their environmental impact in several ways:

  • He donates leftover food to a local homeless charity
  • He’s installed lots of recycling bins around the location
  • He’s put up signage asking clients to save anything away that could be re-used/re-purposed, and he always tries to recycle set dressing or items left behind
  • All the lighting in the location is on a timer, so it switches off automatically after a period of time

What’s more, with this location being in Manchester, it’s easy for a lot of city-based production companies to get to, which means there’s less travel and less carbon output.

Moving towards a sustainable future together
Clearly, there’s more we can all do to reduce our impact on the planet but going by our own experience and looking at the changes our partners are making, we can see that a shift is underway. What’s more, it’s evident that the greatest changes come when we work together towards a shared vision of the future. 

We love the creative industry, the people in it, and the content they (you!) create – and we want to do everything in our power to make sure that can continue. If you can think of other ways in which UK Locations can help promote and support sustainable advertising, please let us know! We’re in this together, after all.

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