In the last five years, we have worked to radicalise environmental debate in the UK, giving others the space to push for deeper change in policy, attitudes and values. This has ranged from highlighting the urgency of the problems we face (in Climate Safety and The Green Investment Gap) to producing pioneering research into the potential for transforming our energy system (in Zero Carbon Britain and The Offshore Valuation) to advocating radical policy solutions (in Energy Bonds and Carbon Omissions).
This piece by Guy Shrubsole was originally published on Green Alliance’s Greener Living Blog.
What did you watch over Christmas? Sky’s new production of Treasure Island? A catch-up of season two of The Killing? Or… lots of adverts?
Whatever you watched, it’s very likely that you got treated to a high volume of advertisements. The average Briton is exposed to 250 TV commercials every week, and that’s just broadcast ads. Environmental campaigners and behaviour-change analysts rightly focus much of their attention on influencing editorial agendas – getting a cause into the news or ensuring a documentary about an issue is accurate. But to keep on ignoring the commercial advertising that surrounds such editorial agendas (and thanks to product placement, increasingly pervades them) would be a big mistake.
PIRC attended a workshop on the Future of Advertising on 12th January 2012 organised by industry-funded think tank Credos and the Futures Company. We look forward to seeing the finished report in March this year.
A round-up of various responses to our report from advertisers and activists – some enthusiastic endorsements, some, er, less so…
- ‘Advertising: getting past good and evil’ by Jon Miller, formerly of Ogilvy and Mother, 30th October 2011
- ENDS Report coverage of the report, 1st November 2011
- ‘How the Guardian helped make Tim Lefroy’s case for advertising’ by Stuart Smith, 4th Nov 2011. (A case of saying ‘there’s no such thing as bad publicity…’)
- ‘Neuroscience vs cats with thumbs’ – an irreverent piece responding to our report on the Wieden & Kennedy London blog, 4th Nov 2011.
- Patrick Burgoine offers up this nicely-annotated notepad of his thoughts from reading Think Of Me As Evil?, 11th Nov 2011.
- ‘Think Of Me As Evil or Do No Evil?’ by Jonathan Akwue at Engine, 17th Nov 2011. (Making a fair point about how we don’t consider Google or other advertising-funded internet businesses much in our report.)
- ‘Think of Me As Evil? Or Laughable?’ by Peter Field on the WARC blog, 29th Nov 2011. (A less sympathetic view…)
- ‘Is Advertising any good?’ – a review of the RSA’s debate on the questions raised in our report by Andrew Armour of marketing company Benchstone Ltd, 29th Nov 2011.
- ‘Is advertising out of control?’ by Dwayne Waite, partner at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, Dec 2011.
Professor John Barrett from Leeds University has written a great take-down of the Government’s latest claims to have cut Britain’s carbon footprint. Barrett should know: he’s authored many of Defra’s own papers into the subject of outsourced emissions.
PIRC has submitted written evidence to the Energy and Climate Change (ECC) Committee’s inquiry into consumption-based emissions reporting. You can read our submission online here.
Jon Alexander, co-author of Think Of Me As Evil?, writes on the Guardian’s Sustainable Business Blog:
Forgive us for blowing our own trumpet a little, but Ed Mayo – founder of Fairtrade, former chair of the National Consumer Council and currently Secretary-General of Cooperatives UK – is one of our heroes…
Including talk by Jon Alexander, co-author of Think Of Me As Evil?, from 5.20 in.
Date: 10 November 2011
RSVP to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Guy Shrubsole is Director of Public Interest Research Centre (PIRC), an independent charity whose work is aimed towards building a sustainable society. He helped coordinate PIRC’s Offshore Valuation report (2010) and his research on policies for 10:10 inspired the Lighter Later campaign. He previously worked for the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and New Zealand’s Ministry of Agriculture.
Guy will talk about PIRC’s latest report, produced jointly with WWF, Think Of Me As Evil? Opening the ethical debates in advertising.
Advertising is everywhere. It pervades the media, the internet, and our public spaces. But despite its invasiveness, strikingly few question its effects on our consumption, our freedom of choice, or our cultural values.
Guy will discuss evidence that advertising may increase overall consumption, promote values that are socially and environmentally damaging, manipulate individuals on a subconscious level, and has become so pervasive in modern society as to make the choice of opting-out from exposure virtually impossible.
“The truth is that marketing raises enormous ethical questions every day—at least it does if you’re doing it right…”
– Rory Sutherland, former President of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA)