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Marketing and Comms
Free Guide Aims to Help Agencies Eliminate Greenwashing

Creatives for Climate’s ‘Anti-Greenwash Guide’ is designed to help ad and communications agencies comply with the latest greenwashing laws, and principles to guide them away from misleading and unsubstantiated sustainability-related claims.

Global NGO Creatives for Climate has launched a free first-of-its-kind guide, The Anti-Greenwash Guide for Agency Leaders, to help agency leaders respond to the ever-growing regulatory changes against greenwashing at Creatives for Climate’s inaugural Ethical Agency Summit in Amsterdam earlier this month.

Hot on the heels of UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ recent call for news and tech media to stop enabling “planetary destruction” by taking fossil-fuel advertising money and Edinburgh’s City Council becoming the latest local government to ban ads for fossil fuels and other high-carbon products, the Anti-Greenwash Guide covers the latest in regulatory frameworks, helpful tips for agencies to move away from inadvertent greenwashing (including a pull-out “How Not to Greenwash” checklist), and principles to guide agencies away from misleading and unsubstantiated sustainability-related claims in communications campaigns.

Image credit: Creatives for Climate

There are also a variety of settled and active case studies of greenwashing from marketing campaigns of global brands including HSBC, KLM, Oatly, Primark and Unilever — as well as examples of how to drive positive change at scale.

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“Given the increasing regulatory changes, many agencies are struggling to keep up with the fast-changing laws. However, skirting the rules is the minimum standard and should not be the ultimate goal when aiming to create impactful campaigns that reflect the true nature of the climate crisis,” said founder and CEO Lucy von Sturmer, founder and CEO of Creatives for Climate — whose anti-greenwash resources for creatives also include its Greenwash Watch Course and Greenwash Swatch tool. “This guide is designed to raise awareness about eliminating greenwashing and protecting agencies, which we hope will achieve greater transformation to steer the industry in the right direction.”

An exponential rise in legal and regulatory action against greenwashing has occurred in the last two years and greenwashing litigation is expected to continue to grow in 2024. The Anti-Greenwash Guide for Agency Leaders details examples of legislation being introduced to clarify key terms, and specify what types of claims are unlawful and which require further evidence.

"An anti-greenwash guide is such a helpful resource to guide us through the complexities of communicating environmental messaging; the stakes are too high not to get it right,” said Luke Purdy, Director of Sustainability at creative agency Wieden+Kennedy. “Our reach and potential for impact at Wieden+Kennedy and the industry as a whole is huge, which is why it is so vital that we're as responsible as we can be with the influence we wield. It matters what we say and how we say it.”

The guide also lists the latest regulatory frameworks addressing greenwashing from across the globe — in Australia, Singapore, Europe, the US and UK — and summarizes them for readers.

“Agencies can land themselves in hot water if their campaigns fail to comply with anti-greenwashing laws and regulations, as shown by recent legal action involving global brands,” said Jonathan White, climate lawyer at ClientEarth, who acted as an advisor on the development of the Guide. “This intensifying legal scrutiny means that adhering to the latest rules is only the bare minimum. Full and frank treatment of the facts through conscious and accurate messaging is the way forward.”

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