New IPA Chair for Scotland, David Shearer, who has been elected to represent the collective needs and interests of Scotland’s advertising agencies within IPA membership, is on the hunt for the Greta Thunbergs of adland to help guide the Scottish advertising industry’s approach to sustainability. His rallying call to arms forms a key tenet of his two-year agenda.
Within his address, Shearer – who has over 30 years’ experience within the business and holds the position of Managing Director of MediaCom Edinburgh – acknowledges the climate crisis as ‘the major global issue of our time’ before detailing his mission to set up a group of ‘Climate Ambassadors’ in Scotland. This Group, Shearer outlines, will consist of junior practitioners within IPA agencies to research, highlight and drive current and future climate-related initiatives that can be easily adopted by every type of agency to help reduce adland’s environmental impact. It will interact regularly with IPA Scotland’s Senior Leader’s Forum to ensure their views are heard and acted upon.
Says Shearer: “It is abundantly clear that young people are the most fully engaged with the climate emergency – Greta Thunberg’s pre-eminence as a global climate change figurehead and the focus on young people’s view in ‘The Climate Pledge: Paris 10 Years Early’ advertising campaign provides clear, empirical evidence of this.”
This is no real surprise given it’s their future that’s under threat. I would therefore like to involve more of our younger colleagues in helping to protect the future health of our industry.
Current sustainability-focused initiatives that Shearer highlights within his speech, and that the Climate Ambassadors Group will champion, include the Ad Net Zero programme which has a five-point action plan for the entire industry, from creative and media agencies to media owners, to help the development, production and media placement of advertising achieve real net zero by 2030.
One of the core elements of this Ad Net Zero action plan, Shearer explains, is the creation of the IPA Media Climate Charter which offers a pathway for media agencies to demonstrate their commitment and action in response to the climate crisis and includes a carbon calculator for media plans that David’s agency MediaCom developed and has made available to the wider media community. He also highlights action point 5 relating to AdGreen – an advertising production sustainability initiative to encourage all agencies and production companies to commit to zero waste/zero carbon production, which will also provide a carbon calculator here, launching soon.
He also urges all practitioners to sign up to the Ad Net Zero Global Summit taking place on 3-4 November 2021, during the same period when the UK hosts the UN Climate Change Conference, COP26 in Glasgow. At the Ad Net Zero Summit, advertising leaders will outline the steps the advertising business needs to take to change the way it works and to change the work it makes.
Demonstrating the value of agencies
In addition to his core sustainability thrust, Shearer also outlines his commitment to work closely with IPA President Julian Douglas to champion one of his key initiatives launched this year: the IPA Effectiveness Accreditation programme. The programme has been designed to fuel and better demonstrate the value that advertising agencies deliver for brands and is something Shearer believes ‘is perfectly suited to the smaller type of agencies most prevalent in Scotland.’
The entry process to achieve Effectiveness Accreditation involves a written paper and video submission with successful agencies rewarded for demonstrating their effectiveness culture across seven criteria including their people, process, collaboration, challenge mentality, commercial literacy, achievement and credibility. The stronger their overall culture, the more effective they will be overall and for their clients.
The inaugural list of this year’s successfully accredited agencies were revealed today, 16 September, with David’s agency, MediaCom, among those achieving the standard. Learnings from the successful agencies will be discussed – alongside discussion of the results of the industry’s Effectiveness Culture Monitor: a benchmark study of the overall level of effectiveness with the industry (also out today) – at the upcoming, IPA EffWorks Global 2021 conference on 12 October 2021 (with free virtual sessions available to view).
I know most of us in the advertising industry in Scotland work with clients looking to squeeze every last benefit out of their limited marketing budget. Obtaining IPA Effectiveness Accreditation will help agencies position themselves as true business growth partners to these clients. After all, they keep asking us to prove that what we do works.
“I will be encouraging every Scottish agency to get prepared well in advance for next time and in the meantime, I urge all industry practitioners to tune in to the cross-industry EffWorks conference for free and invaluable insights into how to start your effectiveness journey – and to take the IPA’s Effectiveness Essentials course – free to IPA members. I’m convinced that just by starting out on this journey, agencies – and brands – will boost their business performance.”
Ad Net Zero will also be launching the first training qualification for advertising professionals to fully equip people with the understanding to take responsibility for the carbon emissions related to the operations of advertising work day-to-day, as well as consider the role their work plays in promoting sustainable products and services. The training which will be available online to all ad professionals, in the UK and internationally, via the IPA’s globally recognised CPD platform is in the final stages of beta testing with Ad Net Zero supporters and will be available to the industry later this year.
David Shearer biography:
After university, David started his advertising career in London before fulfilling a variety of roles at various media agencies throughout his now 33 years working in media. He joined MediaCom Edinburgh just over 20 years ago as their fourth employee and has been Managing Director for the last 11 years. In his time at MediaCom, David has worked closely with the likes of RBS, Standard Life, Scottish Government, VisitScotland and ScotRail and is involved across MediaCom Edinburgh’s current client portfolio which includes Subway, Trivago, Visit Norway, Tesco Bank & Scottish Widows. During these years, David held roles in virtually every aspect of the media business from leading strategy for brands spending tens of millions to buying niche titles for businesses spending tens of thousands. He has also co-ordinated multi-territory activities for Global and European clients.