10 Sustainable Brand Ads to learn from for Sustainability Campaigns 2021

Under close watch by the younger generation, sustainability marketing has to be more than just product promotions and services with a positive sustainability message.

Younger generations are not only choosing brands that align with their beliefs and lifestyles, but are also willing to pay more for them. As much as 62% of Gen Z and Millennial survey participants prefer to buy from sustainable brands, with Gen Z the most willing to pay more for sustainable products.

Since these Gen Z and Millenials currently make up the biggest consumer demographic in the world, it’s no wonder so many companies are jumping on the sustainability marketing wagon to stay relevant in an increasingly socially and environmentally conscious landscape.

Consumers expect companies to practice what they preach. It comes down to being fully committed and authentic about your sustainability efforts, even if it means being transparent with consumers when you fall short. 

Whether you’re planning to revamp your brand identity or you’re looking to start an upcoming sustainability campaign in 2021, here’s 10 awesome sustainable brand ads that are sure to inspire.

Lifebuoy

There is no bigger motivator for good handwashing practice than the arrival of a pandemic. For years, Lifebuoy has advocated the importance of handwashing, but starting last October, Lifebuoy wanted to change the way the alphabet is taught – particularly the letter “H”. 

The new movement, aptly named “H for Handwashing”, emphasises on teaching good handwashing and hygiene practices at a young age. To make that accessible, Lifebuoy has set up a free resource page, which contains campaign assets for educators and an interactive playbook for pre-schoolers.

Action point for your content marketing strategy:

With the pandemic at the forefront of peoples’ minds, pandemic related concerns makes your sustainability message more meaningful to just about every consumer. But to drive home your brand’s message, consider providing free resources that make sustainable living more accessible to your consumers. 

For example, an eco-friendly toilet paper brand may provide a virtual platform for their consumers’ to track their weekly usage and interact with other like-minded people. It sends a lasting message – that you’re not just here to pay lip service, but you’re with them every step of their sustainability journey.

Patagonia

An activewear retailer, Patagonia is known for its eco-conscious corporate philosophy, generous donations to grassroots environmentalist groups and various activism – ranging from protection and restoration of the natural environment to conservation efforts.

One of its most memorable sustainability campaigns was their “Don’t Buy This Jacket” advertisement. Offering products that are designed to last, Patagonia saw the opportunity to address excessive consumerism on Black Friday, the peak of retail holiday season in America.

The provocative headline – which meant for customers to think twice before buying, was effective in calling attention to the issue of consumerism and reinforcing Patagonia’s commitment to sustainability over profits.

Patagonia sets itself apart from other brands by being honest with shortcomings and sincere about their commitment, in turn being able to better connect with their consumers and grow in brand loyalty.

Action point for your content marketing strategy:

You get the picture: a bold sustainability campaign is attention grabbing and little else if you aren’t able to build trust in consumers.

As with any good marketing campaign, sincerity is key to success. You’ll get called out in no time if you’re planning to simply ride the sustainability marketing trend train with a green message and little action to back your statements. Think of fast fashion brands whose eco-friendly messaging is easily drowned out by their constant, superfluous production of poorly made garments.

Beyond Meat

Fast becoming a household name, Beyond Meat sells plant-based substitutes for meat products that are better for health and climate change. Their sustainability marketing involves eye-catching packaging and tongue-in-cheek statements about the deliciousness and benefits of their products. Cheekily telling consumers to “find them in the meat aisle”, Beyond Meat further shows its consumers that they can do their part for the environment without compromising on taste.

Action point for your content marketing strategy:

Introducing a new way of living can sometimes be met with resistance, especially if you’re targeting a non eco-conscious audience. You can instead focus on framing your product as an alternative that doesn’t compromise on quality, taste or feel. Keep it light and playful – think of memorable crowd-funding product videos like Hitch – which have narratives that are highly relatable and engaging.

Xbox Adaptive Controller

Microsoft sparked the conversation of inclusion in and beyond gaming when they promoted the Xbox Adaptive Controller with a touching commercial that aired during the Super Bowl in 2019. An accessory for those with limited mobility, the Xbox Adaptive Controller is one of Microsoft’s most meaningful innovations. The Super Bowl commercial spotlight gamers with disabilities and showed how the controller was able to empower everyone.

Action point for your content marketing strategy:

Don’t restrict your sustainability campaign to only environmental causes, and take a stand for social inclusion as well. Your company’s commitment to sustainability can be about outreach and partnerships with marginalised communities. Identify a social group that you feel strongly about and tie it back to your branding.

If you’re in tech and design, consider inclusive designs to come up with more accessible packaging and products for your consumers.

Niantic – Pokemon Go

During past years’ Earth Day, Niantic teamed up with nonprofits to host local clean up events for Pokemon Go players worldwide. By participating in clean up efforts, players were able to unlock several tiers of in-game rewards. 

This year, Niantic is focused on encouraging players to take individual actions that effect change while staying safe amidst the pandemic. If enough players participate and share their efforts on social media, Niantic will unlock special in-game tiered rewards for all.

Action point for your content marketing strategy:

Gamifying sustainable activities is a great way to generate interest and encourage consumers’ involvement, especially for activities that the majority might find inconvenient – such as bring-your-own-bag/mug initiatives at supermarkets and cafes. You can encourage participation by introducing gaming elements to track consumer’s sustainable efforts, and reward the ones who did best.

Thinx

Thinx are washable and reusable period-proof underwear that are designed to replace tampons and sanitary pads. Using the same technology, they’ve also developed underwear for bladder leaks. Thinx strives to ensure positive impact in every aspect of their business – from the ethical, sustainable manufacturing of their products to their activism for inclusivity and menstrual equity. 

Not only does Thinx partner with various nonprofits to make basic hygiene products accessible to everyone, they are also at the forefront of breaking taboo around menstruation. A while back, Thinx put up period ads in Manhattan that depicted a trans man – reminding all that men menstruate too – it was a very real and inclusive portrayal of periods. Shortly after, Thinx widened their product designs to include gender-neutral items.

Thinx manages to create a brand whose feminist image and brazen voice speaks to their target audience and customers. They’ve taken a taboo topic and changed the narrative around it, while also allowing customers to contribute to environmental and humanitarian efforts.

Action point for your content marketing strategy:

You can connect with consumers in the same way by identifying their pain points. Depending on what the pain points are, you can use it to link back to your brand’s sustainability commitment. For example, if your product is an expensive necessity, acknowledge that you’re working on lowering cost and create initiatives that increase the product’s accessibility to people from lower income families.

Levis

Levis recently launched the “Buy Better, Wear Longer” campaign to bring attention to the environmental impacts of fashion production and overconsumption. The campaign, which features six celebrity change makers, also encourages sustainable habits in consumers, and spotlights their eco-friendly Water<Less technology that has saved 10 billion litres of water since it was first introduced.

Action point for your content marketing strategy:

Partnering with key opinion leaders (KOL) in your sustainability marketing can lend credibility to and show sincerity in your commitment towards sustainability. With KOL’s added influence, you can position your company as a sustainable brand to attract eco-conscious consumers with an approachable voice.

Axe

In just a few years Axe went from promoting traditional male stereotypes to being at the forefront of the movement against toxic masculinity, and encouraging expressions of individuality with grooming products.

In their 2019 campaign, Axe introduced the term “Bathsculinity”, which, according to Urban Dictionary, refers to characteristics of a modern man who is comfortable in his own skin – inside and outside of the bathroom. The campaign relied on a series of 15 seconds videos with comedian Lil Rel Howery relaxing in a tub and delivering Axe’s message that there’s no one way to be a man.

Action point for your content marketing strategy:

If your your company hasn’t made any sustainable efforts toward social equality yet, consider rebranding it with a social or environmental angle that’s perhaps, long due.

By repositioning your company’s brand identity, you can have the bonus of a stronger marketing impact, especially with millennials and younger demographics who are more receptive to socially and eco-conscious efforts. 

Carlsberg

A Carlsberg ad of their prototype for the world's first "paper" beer bottle.

Carlsberg is continually pushing the limits of their sustainability efforts as they journey towards a zero carbon footprint. A few years ago, they introduced glue technology for the six-pack, completely eliminating the use of plastic wrapping.

And just recently, they’ve released prototypes of the world’s first “paper” beer bottle – made from 100% bio-based and sustainably sourced wood fibres, and intend to work with other leading global brands to develop sustainable packaging.

Probably the greenest beer in the world? You decide.

Action point for your content marketing strategy:

It’s ok if you haven’t reached the sustainability goals that you’ve set for your company. Like Carlsberg’s beer ad, be transparent about where you fall short, and that you’re working on a solution.

It’s relatable and makes you a favourable option to eco-conscious consumers – it builds trust and shows that you’re also on the same journey as them, towards a sustainable future.

Lush

Lush is a beauty company that produces quality body, hair and beauty products that are free of animal testing, using natural ingredients and ethical, eco-friendly practices. Committed to minimising product packaging, Lush has a whole range of packaging-free “Naked Products” and reusable black tubs, which are made from recycled materials. Customers are encouraged to replenish products with the same black tubs, or return them to Lush to contribute to their in-house closed loop recycling scheme.

Action point for your content marketing strategy:

Build a strong green brand identity by engaging consumers in your company’s sustainable practices. You could follow Lush’s footsteps with recyclable packaging and incentivise packaging returns.

It adds value to different stages of their consumer journey, particularly at the start and end which leads them back to you.

Fighting for LGBTQ+ Rights is also Sustainability

Indeed, sustainability can also have to do with society at large – even LGBTQ+ rights! The UN’s 2015 Sustainable Development Goals agreement was made on the basis that they applied to everyone, including LGBTQ+ people.

But until LGBTQ+ equality is explicitly made one of the the main Sustainable Development Goals, there’s still a long way more to fighting for equal and fair treatment of LGBTQ+ people.

You can be part of the fight by participating at Singapore’s Pink Fest this June! 

The Fandom Menace will be releasing a limited 8 page Pink-Fest print run of Scalemail & Ixora the Flower Knight. Initially featured in our Kickstarter comic SingaHeroes, this will be Scalemail & Ixora’s first published adventure.

Empowered by a mystical being, Eric and Hallie transform into the super-powered Scalemail & Ixora, using their abilities to battle bullies and bigotry, to protect the oppressed!

Inspired by two of Singapore’s flora and fauna, the pangolin and ixora flower, this LGBTQ+ superhero duo embark on a lifelong adventure, constantly at odds with each other while sharing the most important belief: that equality, means protecting all.

Brief intro to scalemail & ixora

To find out more, or get a copy of Scalemail & Ixora the Flower Knight, click here!

Author: Desiree Goh

Desiree is a fan of anything that promises a good story with interesting characters and set in a world more interesting than this one. Alternatively, she can be found crusading Tumblr with an arsenal of GIFs.

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