Marketing and Comms
Effie Worldwide, WEF Unveil Award to Recognize Sustainability-Focused Brands

The World Economic Forum (WEF) and Effie Worldwide, which rewards effectiveness in marketing communications, have announced a new award aimed at incentivizing marketers to put more emphasis on sustainability in their work, and “recognize and celebrate” the companies who are already committed to driving and promoting positive environmental impact.

The Positive Change Effie Award will recognize and celebrate the most effective marketing programs that have measurably shifted consumer behavior toward more sustainable choices, and/or grown demand for more sustainable products and services by incorporating sustainability as a part of their marketing communications.

Business leaders conceived the idea during a discussion of the Engaging Tomorrow’s Consumer project at the WEF’s Annual Meeting in Davos in 2013. The attendees recognized the opportunity to help bridge the gap between the intentions and actions of consumers when it comes to sustainability by rewarding brands for making sustainability a greater priority in their marketing programs.

More than half (54 percent) of brand managers feel barriers exist to prioritizing sustainability, of which a quarter feel there is no incentive to incorporate sustainable strategies, according to a recent Forum survey.

“To address the challenge of living within our resource limits, we must drive consumer demand towards sustainable choices,” said Sarita Nayyar, managing director at WEF USA. “Our research shows that brand managers who are rewarded for meeting sustainability targets are more likely to implement such strategies.”

Effie says the Positive Change Effie Award will help build the business case for brand managers to prioritize sustainability.

Further research exposed a clear gap between the intentions and actions of consumers when it comes to sustainability with 72 percent of consumers surveyed around the world saying they are willing to buy green products, but only 17 percent actually walk the talk. In August, a separate report by Nielsen found that 50 percent of global consumers are willing to pay more for goods and services from companies that have implemented programs to give back to society, and 43 percent of this number have actually done so.

The Positive Change Effie is designed to help change the way consumers use products and services, as well as successfully moving them to try and switch to those that are more sustainable, Effie says.

Call for entries will be announced early in the fourth quarter of this year. At its launch, the Positive Change Effie Award will include North American and European categories. Work that ran between September 1, 2012 and October 31, 2014, in the US, Canada or Europe will qualify for entry.

Speaking of rewarding game-changing communications, D&AD founded the White Pencil award — which highlights excellent creative ideas with a social purpose — in 2012 with the support of Unilever, as part of a long-term partnership offering “a programme of educational activities to get people talking, joining in and taking action to really make a difference,” according to D&AD. This year's winner will be announced, along with those of the agency's Black and Yellow Pencils, at an awards ceremony on May 22.

In January, WEF released a report in collaboration with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation that said over US$1 trillion a year could be generated for the global economy by 2025 and 100,000 new jobs created within the next five years if companies focused on building circular supply chains to increase the rate of recycling, reuse and remanufacture.

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