How dull creative is failing sustainability

Brands offering boring messages about sustainability are missing the opportunity to create real change, says Pippa Morris, head of strategy, Revolt

The evidence of climate change is all around us, and people are demanding action not just from governments, but from brands too. As a result, we’ve seen a huge upsurge in the amount of sustainability communications from brands, corporates and NGOs over the past ten years. Lots of talk about changes that have been made, commitments pledged, what governments must do and ways we can all change our own behaviour.

But despite climate change being the single most emotive topic humanity is wrestling with, communications about sustainability are almost always dull. Adam Morgan and Peter Field have identified the financial cost of mediocre communications for businesses – Field’s The Cost of Dull shows that ads deemed boring are 6.1 times more ineffective at growing market share than interesting ones.

But when it comes to sustainability communications, the cost of dull goes beyond just the fiscal. Here, we all pay the price for work that is unable to move hearts and minds. Revolt analysed the emotional strength of sustainability campaigns from the past ten years – sourced from creative and strategic awards – to see what good sustainability creative really looks like. Each campaign was plotted against the relative strength of eight core emotions – joy to sadness, anticipation to surprise, anger to fear, and disgust to trust.

Let’s remember that sustainability in itself is not a feeling, and talking about it does not alone deliver the attention you demand