The carbon impact of any campaign begins with the idea. A TV commercial needing warm sunny weather but scheduled to shoot in January is likely going to be need to shot abroad, giving the project a heavy footprint before you get anywhere near plastic bottles or on set recycling. Here are some things to consider at the start of the process, as well as ideas on how to communicate more sustainable living within the context of advertising.
REDUCING THE FOOTPRINT AT SCRIPT AND BIDDING STAGE
Air travel (when used) is usually the biggest piece of a production footprint pie. Shooting abroad, or bringing in clients, crew or cast from outside the country will significantly increase the footprint of a shoot. Consider:
-> Developing scripts which can be shot in your own city/country where possible, or as close to home as possible, and allow for seasonal weather advantages to keep shoots in your own hemisphere
-> If you are shooting outside of your own market, using local production support and remote reviewing to minimise client and agency travel
-> Making it clear to any production companies bidding that you expect maximum local cast, crew and heads of department to minimise talent travel (whether they are proposing to shoot at home or abroad)
-> If you do have to travel, make sure flight offsetting costs are factored into your budget (and anyone else's where flights are also included)
Energy is the second biggest pie slice - what can you do here?
-> Request that the production team consider this in their approach - can they use predominantly LED lighting? Solar or rechargable generators? A studio powered by renewable energy? You can direct them here and here for more info.
Lastly, waste - avoid baking this into your scripts by thinking about the following:
-> Any large set build should use sustainably sourced materials (and reuse old items if possible), meaning things like poly carving are a big no no. Discuss this with the production companies at bid stage and ask them to look at alternative options, and have them budget for them accordingly.
-> Wasting a large amount of any item doing repeats will significantly increase the shoot's waste (and waste bill), so think carefully before writing anything that warrant smashing up cars, food fights and dropping anything from a great height! (no matter how much fun those things are)
NORMALISING SUSTAINABLE BEHAVIOUR
Just as we use advertising to advise people to store laundry tablets out of kids' reach, we can also use it to deploy subtle environmental messaging, even if it's not the main focus of the ad. Here are a few examples to get you thinking...
-> Have characters use reusable coffee cups, water bottles and canvas bags
-> Have characters eat with real cutlery, on real plates (i.e. having lunch at the office)
-> Have characters turn off lights as they leave rooms, turn off taps, and put appropriate waste in recycling and compost bins
-> Use electric and hybrid cars as prop cars
-> Show solar panels on homes in exterior shots
There's a full list of ideas (and items) for home, work and school settings there's a full list of ideas here on the Environmental Media Association's website (scroll down to the 'Greening Plotlines and Characters' section). We've also added this link to our art department section too, so that prop buyers can also consider these ideas when they're out hiring and buying. And here are some examples of seeing sustainable behaviours in action on screen, courtesy of albert:
Recent Case Studies: Read how other productions are employing basic sustainable processes on set and in pre-production
Tips for a Greener Office: Basic tips on making your office run more sustainably, including a template for an office memo
Paperless Ideas: Not sure how to electronically sign the PIBs? Want to deal with invoices electronically? Apps and more to help you (and also our crews) go paperless
AdGreen's FAQ: Can you reuse drives? What is carbon offsetting? Do you need to have risk assessments printed?
BAFTA's albert: Just as AdGreen is doing in advertising, albert works with film and TV productions, providing carbon measurement tools, as well as training and resources to help reduce footprints - great to see what others are doing in related sectors
Creative Energy: A scheme run by BAFTA's Albert initiative to encourage companies working in the creative industries - including advertising agencies and production companies - to switch to renewable energy tariffs by securing low prices with Good Energy (one of the biggest ways you can reduce the footprint of your operations!). Click the link and fill in the info - one of the team will get back to you with more info.
The Comms Lab: Helping the advertising industry become more purpose led, offering talks, workshops and training
Purpose Disruptors: A group of industry professionals working on their vision for the advertising and marketing communications industry to work only on promoting attitudes, lifestyles and behaviours that are consummate with a 1.5 degree world.
Green Element: Environmental management consultancy who have experience working with advertising agencies and can help you make bigger changes internally in terms of offices and facilities (such as attaining British Standards and ISO's in sustainability)