Advertising v Climate Change?

I’ve spent the large part of my career in digital marketing and advertising. I’ve helped many brands sell more stuff to consumers who have more than enough already. But they want to impress people they don’t know, with new products that they think they need (because of “What it says about Me“) often paid for on credit cards with money they don’t have.


I’m hugely grateful to the ad industry and all the opportunities it has provided me with, but I wouldn’t be arrogant enough to sit here today and tell you to now buy less just because I’ve jumped on the bandwagon of climate change. Is buying less and shopping smarter going to save the planet? Maybe, but it probably won’t make a radical impact – even collectively.


Jordan B. Peterson argued recently that consumerism could actually help them planet in the short term, based upon a countries GDP figure and at what point its population starts to care about the planet and each other.


But that’s also missing the point.


Advertising takes up space in your brain. It’s a battle for mindshare not just “share of wallet” as advertising folk like to say. We see thousands of ad messages every day (between 3,500 and 10,000 depending upon which report you believe) but new figures show that it’s still a growing industry.


UK ad spend rose 6.3% year-on-year to reach £23.6bn in 2018, marking the ninth consecutive year of market growth and highest annual total since monitoring began in 1982. This record investment is highlighted in the Advertising Association/WARC Expenditure Report, which is the only one to collect advertising spend data from across the entire media landscape.


Screenshot 2019-09-09 at 09.12.40


The final quarter of 2018 recorded expenditure growth of 5.7% over Q4 2017, with adspend reaching £6.5bn. This includes adspend during the crucial Christmas period and marked the 22nd consecutive quarter of market growth.


Advertising spend is forecast to grow 4.8% this year, with a further rise, of 5.5%, projected for 2020. This would push investment to over £26bn, completing more than a decade of continuous expansion for the UK advertising industry.


With that in mind, I watched this great little clip from journalist George Monbiot this morning, talking about the power of advertising. I personally think that advertising still has a very positive role to play in shaping society and winning hearts and minds to meaningful causes, but I do agree with a lot of what he says too. It’s only 4 minutes long well worth watching.


If you enjoyed that, you can watch the full 2-hour interview here:

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