Sky research reveals the ‘green halo’ of sustainability advertising: 3 in 5 say sustainability messaging in advertising influences their brand choice

New research commissioned by Sky Media and released as part of the 2023 Sky Zero Footprint Fund, reveals the impact and effectiveness of sustainability campaigns.  

The study of 52 campaigns, across seven categories, tapped into a UK-representative audience of over 5,300 Sky participants – using both survey and qualitative interview and focus groups. The research, conducted in conjunction with Savanta, also included use of impulse and speed response triggers to help gauge strength and speed of agreement to highlight implicit associations. By comparing sustainability and non-sustainability campaigns across a range of brand categories, the research was able to reveal: 

Sustainability influences brand choice 

  • 71% of respondents are concerned about climate change
  • Climate change ranks in the top three of the ‘UK’s most pressing issues’
  • Three in five Sky Customers say sustainability messaging in advertising influences their brand choice
  • 49% say sustainability messaging has ‘a lot’ of influence (and for younger audiences this rises to as much as 59%)
  • Even ‘eco resistant’ audiences are still influenced by sustainability messaging
  • Overall, sustainability ads in the research evoked stronger emotions, which lead to better ad engagement and persuasion
  • Moreover, when testing the best of both sustainability ads and non-sustainability ads, the sustainability ads still outperformed the best non-sustainability ads for engagement & persuasion

Creative Considerations 

  • Four key factors were identified as drivers of positive reception of sustainability ads, including:
  • Credibility – Show me what you’ve done already or why I should believe you (by backing up claims with actions)
  • Clarity of message – What action is being taken? Any vagueness in promises tend to be heavily associated with greenwashing.
  • Correct tone – Having an impassioned voice of authority/influence is liked if coming from a credible source; telling people what to do with no expertise is counterproductive
  • Creative Execution – Talking about sustainability does bring all aspects of execution under closer scrutiny; the execution is linked with reception factors such as location and use of talent, which can majorly undermine green credentials

Category Consideration 

  • Sustainability messaging can be hugely influential when included in advertising and have an impact in all categories of advertising 
  • Sustainability ads elicit stronger positive opinions of brands in all sectors, but categories such as finance and energyhave to work considerably harder to overcome pre-existing notions


  • Across the board, the research showed +15% higher positive brand perception for sustainability ads vs non-sustainability ads
  • 5% greater engagement and persuasion scores vs non-sustainability ads
  • Through our library of effectiveness studies comparing 600 campaigns with a mix of sustainability vs non-sustainability campaigns across seven key categories – sustainability led campaigns come out as more effective across the board and increase areas like recall by as much as 12%.

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