This 2023 holiday season is filled with tension. As people seek to escape routine and disconnect, many have been forced to stay acutely connected with the realities of our modern world as a result of climate chaos. Heatwaves across southern Europe, China and the US, saw the global average temperature reach 16.95C in July. Shocking images of climate breakdown may lose their value, but first hand experience is another thing altogether. A quick glimpse at the Guardians ‘Extreme Weather’ tab acutely highlights the havoc of our times. In the past month we’ve seen 20,000 tourists flee Greece fires and thousands of Scouts evacuated due to extreme weather in South Korea. No matter where you are in the world, it’s now near impossible to escape this reality at a local level. We’re being forced closer to the climate problem than ever before. UN Secretary General, António Guterres leans on searing language to deliver these truths - recently noting how we've moved past global warming into the era of global boiling. His striking speeches of the last number of years signal how much messaging seems to go unheard.


The communications crisis fuelling our climate problems has been getting more and more airtime - hitting a tipping point of consciousness around greenwashing and delay tactics. On the other hand, despite driving conversation and some trialling new tactics, recent activism campaigns don’t seem to be winning over the general public. The current rallying cry is for more effective communications and storytelling - to evolve beyond buzzwords. As new reporting standards come into effect (EU Commission has officially adopted the European Sustainability Reporting Standards -ESRS) and ESG risks are highlighted, leaders are starting to feel the pressure in a myriad of new ways.

In general, there’s a growing emphasis on the need for emotive storytelling over statistics overload: “Unlike numbers or facts, stories can trigger an emotional response, harnessing the power of motivation, imagination, and personal values, which drive the most powerful and permanent forms of social change.” Bella Lack. Yet it’s not so simple - as so many businesses seek to make their sustainability communications meet legal requirements, the creative challenge is real. Despite this, we’ve certainly reached a tipping point of realisation in the marketing and ad industry on how our skills can help solve climate’s marketing problems and add to the climate movement.

How are we seeing all this manifest?


On Monday, Al Gore’s now widely shared new Ted Talk went live. The investments made by fossil fuel companies in comms halting progress is a central discussion point. There has been a distinctive focus in youth activist circles on systemic change - focusing on top polluting companies and fossil fuel. With this, a frustration on communications focused on individual change, and increased communications targeting ‘the real enemy.’

  • Greenpeace has invested in epic creativity with its latest film ‘Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow’:“It exposes the grotesque behaviour of oil companies enjoying record profits while our world burns. But ultimately it is a story of hope: it points to the power in all of us to stop this recklessness.”
  • The Glimpse Collective had its latest anti-greenwashing film removed from LinkedIn for being 'offensive to good taste'. It showed an ‘influencer’ puking oil, as she explains Shell’s positive impact work. The cut-through comms forcing us to beg the question - what is really offensive to good taste in a climate emergency?


If your story is that it’s not up to you; I remind you of the saying, If not us — who? If not now — when? Clover Hogan, Force of Nature.

  • Colombian retailer Makro has created Life Extending Stickers to reduce the waste created by fruit and veg by educating people on how to use different items at different stages of ripeness. The sticker’s gradient matches the ripeness colour of various fruits and vegetables. Along the wheel, text shows you the best way to cook it at each colour: Bananas, for example, smoothly transition from green (fry it) to yellow (ice cream) to slightly brown (tempura) to brown (cupcake).
  • THINKHOUSE is working with Irish retailer SuperValu to launch its new campaign ‘Local Action for Global Impact’ to support its goal of building sustainable and inclusive communities across the country. The campaign is designed to make it easy and desirable for SuperValu’s 2.7m customers and 16,000 retailer network staff across 228 stores to participate in Local Action for Global Impact.
  • The Paris Metro transport system has shown how everyday commuting can generate cleaner energy, turning a daily necessity into an opportunity (if scaled across the network) for over 1.5Bn annual Metro travellers to unlock more sustainable choices in the everyday.
  • Patagonia’s Buy Less, Demand More, addressing conscious consumption.
    The next generation is becoming increasingly conscious of advertising tactics being used to uphold the status quo and resist change. As a result, we’re seeing emerging trends subverting and calling advertising out.
    • Water filter brand Brita’s ‘Clear on Bottled Water’ campaign identifies the tactics that have sold plastic bottled water to the world - dubbed ‘the marketing trick of the century’.
    • Badverts highlights the dangerous climate impacts of aviation advertising, creating alternative travel brochures.
    This summer sees the Western world hit tipping points in climate impacts and consciousness. Beyond considering how your workforce and place will need to build its resilience into the future, it’s important to recognise how central this shift is to everything you work on from here on out. As always, transparency is top of mind for your youth audience.
    Climate narratives need to evolve. Creativity is our superpower. Invest in storytelling and art to drive communication that is worthy of peoples’ attention and helpful to driving the change that is required of us all. Think action PLUS emotion.