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Consumers expect companies and brands to take the lead in the sustainability transition. In the new climate normal, brands must learn to communicate differently. Because consumers and governments are cracking down on greenwashing companies. Even if they do not do so intentionally.
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Greenwashers will be dealt with

83% of all Belgian consumers think that the corporate world should address the threat of the climate crisis. Strangely, these same Belgians have little to no confidence that corporations will take sufficient action.

“We gotta see it to believe it” is what 81% think. And that’s precisely the problem: research led by prof. dr. Gino Verleye (Ghent University) shows, that consumers believe less than one in ten campaigns on sustainability.

The government has no faith in what companies say either. It enforces anti-greenwashing rules in most European countries. These rules define what brands can and cannot say about climate-friendly policies or products.

As an advertiser, how to adopt?

Credibility defines the effectiveness of climate communication. But how do you earn that credibility as an advertiser?

In Belgium, a coalition of professional associations from communication and marketing industries created CommToZero. A platform to help advertisers to communicate about sustainability in a clear and correct fashion.

One of the initiatives is the establishment of six self-regulating rules. This set of binding guidelines aims to avoid campaigns from Belgian advertisers could be perceived as greenwashing. This way they are better protected from regulators axing their campaigns. Which happens more than often elsewhere in Europe. And the smudge on your brand is hard to get rid of.

Self-regulation is an intelligent communications strategy

 The CommToZero coalition defined six rules. They resemble the anti-greenwashing rules in other countries.

  1. Honesty: Claims must not be likely to mislead, and the basis for them must be clear.
  2. Evidence: Marketers must hold robust evidence for all claims likely to be regarded as objective and capable of substantiation.
  3. Information: Marketing communications should must not omit material information. In some cases, it is possible to use alternative means to make the information readily accessible.
  4. Full lifecycle: Marketers must base general environmental claims on the full lifecycle of their product or business.
  5. Comparisons: Products compared in marketing communications must meet the same needs or be intended for the same purpose.
  6. Compliance: Marketers must include all information relating to the environmental impact of advertised products that is required by law or self-regulation codes.


Do you want to know more about how to greenwash-proof your advertising? Ask Bubka, our imagepartners member agency from Belgium!
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