NEWS3 March 2022

Kantar and Affectiva examine eco trends in advertising

Media News UK

UK – New analysis from Kantar and consulting company Affectiva has revealed how to get sustainability in advertising right. 

Shopping bag sustainability environment eco_crop

Using Affectiva’s Emotion AI facial coding, the new findings measure the emotional responses of consumers to the 25% most and least effective ads with environmental or social messaging in Kantar’s database of ads tested. The analysis utilises Affectiva’s emotional measures and Kantar’s KPIs alongside expert analysis of best practice and behavioural science insights to reveal the routes to success for advertisers looking to tackle the issue effectively.

The top performing ads with sustainability messaging often have a more uplifting tone, eliciting more positive emotions like valence (overall emotional positivity), smiling and joy. Advertisers should therefore prioritise a hopeful and positive tone to avoid consumers feeling berated or rejecting the message altogether.

The research found that ads with social messaging evoke strong emotions in viewers, such as pride ( 26%), inspiration ( 21%) and affection ( 19%) but that they aren’t always positive; guilt ( 18%) and sadness ( 17%) also register more often than on average.

Seventh Generation’s “Trees and Bs”, one of the ads tested on Kantar Marketplace for the project, is an example that uses humour to showcase a sustainable choice – using the brand’s recycled toilet paper – through the medium of a comedy song fronted by American actress and comedian Maya Rudolf.

In tackling such a serious subject matter, the study finds, it might be difficult to avoid evoking strong negative emotions. Indeed, while guilt was a common response to many of the worst performing ads, that was also the case for many of the best performers too.

The difference was that the top performing ads were much more likely to leave viewers feeling positive emotions such as confidence, excitement inspiration and pride, despite the difficult issues raised. Lurpak’s “Where there are cooks” is one example of an ad that tackles the issue of food waste, while leaving viewers feeling proud and inspired.

Kantar experts call out several examples of ads that inspire sustainable behaviour without making green claims, delivering a sustainable message without trying to. Co-op’s “First trip out” spot highlights how shoppers can recycle soft plastics in store, focusing on the small pleasures of nature on the journey to the shop. This taps into our psychological need for a clear plan for how to implement good intentions, while avoiding inducing guilt or overclaiming green credentials.

Commenting on the findings, Vera Sidlova, global creative director at Kantar said: “Sustainability is an issue that brands are increasingly expected to address; 64% of global consumers in a recent study said it is a matter for businesses to tackle, rather than their own responsibility.

“Brands seem to be rising to the challenge and the percentage of ads containing an environmental or social message has tripled since 2016. But with several recent examples of ads being censured by advertising regulators for featuring misleading claims, getting it right isn’t always straight forward. Our analysis found that the subject will evoke strong feelings in consumers – the key is to harness those emotions in service of your objectives.”