How brands are leading the green agenda

How brands are leading the green agenda

By Michael Bennett, managing director of specialist sustainability PR consultancy Pelican Communications.

Key takeaways

  • Consumers are more inclined to place their trust, loyalty, and money in greener products
  • As a result we’re seeing a new wave of ‘green advertising’
  • When used honestly and in the best interests of consumers and the environment, green advertising can be successful.


There’s no doubt consumer demands have changed. It’s no longer enough to have the best, most advanced, or even cheapest product. According to new data from consumer research platform Attest, people want brands to make them feel valued, inspired and motivated. On top of this, they want to save the planet.

Of all the social causes and issues they were asked about, nearly 71% of people surveyed said the environment is the topic they are most interested in.

As a result we’re seeing a new wave of ‘green advertising’. This is not a new concept; we first saw green advertising in the 1980s with the release of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) reports that gave consumer’s insight into a company’s environmental, social and financial impacts.

Green advertising is having a major resurgence today as environmental concerns come back into the spotlight and brands recognise that eco-minded consumers are more inclined to place their trust, loyalty, and money in greener products. It means we’re seeing television advertising campaigns focus on sustainability as never before. Here are a few of our favourites:

Finish dishwasher tablets

Acknowledging that people have a tendency to pre-rinse dishes before putting them in the dishwasher, the latest Finish campaign encourages them to ‘skip the rinse’ and save water. Its Quantum tablets are said to remove dried-on food and clean dishes without the nearly 20 gallons of pre-rinse water waste. By using these tablets, Finish claims up to 150 billion gallons of water can be saved per year in the U.S.

Levis jeans

In perhaps the boldest marketing move, Levi’s spring campaign actually seems to tell people to buy fewer jeans! Its “Buy Better, Wear Longer” campaign aims to raise awareness of our ‘shared responsibility on the environmental impacts of apparel production and consumption.

Jen Sey, brand president, says on the company website: “Ultimately, Levi’s denim is meant to be worn for generations, not seasons, so we are also using this campaign to encourage consumers to be more intentional about their apparel choices: to wear each item longer, for example, to buy second-hand, or to use our in-store tailor shops to extend the life of their garments.”

Ikea furniture

To promote its sustainability efforts, Ikea started 2021 with an eco-focused campaign carrying the tagline: ‘Fortune Favours the Frugal’. Demonstrating its commitment to the circular economy, the furniture giant hopes to remove the sometimes negative connotations of the word ‘frugal’ by highlighting the financial and environmental benefits of being thrifty and sustainable.

Ikea hit the headlines earlier this year when it announced plans to sell spare parts for its furniture in a bid to scale up its green credentials.

When used honestly and in the best interests of consumers and the environment, green advertising can be successful, but beware of making sustainability claims you can’t back up or that are a blatant publicity stunt. When McDonald’s switched to paper straws the public quickly realised the straws couldn’t be recycled due to the UK’s recycling infrastructure. Even if they could be recycled, the cups they come with are plastic-lined, and the company came under fire for making no real attempt to address the problem of single-use plastic.


After ten years, Sainsbury’s has retired its “Live Well for Less” motto, unveiling a new brand commitment; ‘Helping Everyone Eat Better’. The new commitment launched with a cleverly shot TV advertising campaign voiced by Stephen Fry that encourages consumers to ‘eat like the planet depends on it’, by eating more fruit and vegetables. It’s based on two years of Sainsbury’s own research that found people wanted a healthier diet while doing good for the planet too.

Pelican Communications a specialist sustainability PR consultancy with extensive experience working in the food, packaging, logistics and resource recovery industries. Based in Manchester, the award-winning team of communication experts, works nationally and internationally to drive brilliant results for its clients.


Michael Bennett, MCIPR, Managing Director, Pelican Communications

Over 30 years of experience in journalism, PR and marketing communications working on a wide range of consumer, business-to-business and professional service clients.

Michael has advised a wide range of clients on all aspects of communications, most notably BMRA, WRAP, McCain Foods, JCB, British Frozen Food Federation, Biffa and Go Outdoors

His areas of expertise include strategic counsel, media relations, employee communications and media training with a specific focus on the food, environmental and packaging industries.

Michael spoke at our ‘The Rise of Sustainable Packaging Seminar’ held in May 2021 and ‘Developing and Promoting a Carbon Neutral Business’ in November 2021, which you can watch back here.

His blogs on both topics can be found here.

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