Hamburg – July 17, 2023 – Sustainability-themed advertising has become a prominent and enduring trend, according to a recent study by Nielsen. The report, which uses statistics from Nielsen’s Ad Intel, a comprehensive source of global advertising data, highlights the growing significance of sustainability in advertising, as companies across various sectors prioritise the ecological sustainability of their products and manufacturing processes.
Over the past decade, sustainability-themed advertising was mainly confined to isolated sectors such as energy and transportation. However, the landscape has evolved dramatically, with a widespread commitment to incorporating sustainability into advertising communications across industries.
The analysis of the German advertising market, which looked at data from the beginning of 2022 to the end of May 2023, uncovered over 18,000 campaign motifs centred around sustainability. The study focused on media campaigns that emphasised responsible resource utilisation, excluding campaigns solely highlighting aspects of social sustainability (e.g. Fairtrade), natural ingredients, vegan food, animal welfare, or economic sustainability.
The findings indicated that advertising budgets primarily allocate resources to traditional channels like Television and Print. Notably, brands and products in the Cleaning (EUR 142.8m), Services (EUR 111.6m), and Personal Care (EUR 92.4m) sectors were heavy advertisers on the topic of sustainability, since 2022. Key attributes demonstrating ecologically sustainable actions by companies include plastic reduction, resource conservation, sustainable energy usage, climate neutrality, and investments in sustainable projects.
The study identified three central themes in sustainability-themed advertising campaigns:
1. Advertisements promoting specific sustainable products: Companies are increasingly showcasing sustainable innovations and technologies. This encompasses the launch of environmentally friendly products, renewable energy solutions, and advanced recycling processes. Emphasising innovation underscores companies’ dedication to sustainable solutions.
2. Consumer benefits of sustainable actions: Storytelling is gaining traction in sustainable advertising, enabling brands to forge an emotional connection with consumers. Through narratives and personal experiences, brands convey the significance of sustainability and illustrate the advantages it offers to individuals. There is also a growing emphasis on local involvement, including supporting regional supply chains, utilising local resources, and fostering community engagement.
3. Emphasising the company’s commitment to sustainability: Advertising campaigns are placing greater emphasis on the circular economy and recycling. Companies are showcasing their efforts to reuse, repair, and recycle products, while encouraging consumers to support these practices.
Dirk Reinbothe, Managing Director of Nielsen Germany, said: “Ecologically sustainable practices are gaining such tremendous importance that not only established brands, but also niche industries, are integrating sustainability into their advertising strategies. Our Ad Intel study has really shown us that this is more than just a trend – it is a large priority for businesses as they seek to create an emotional connection with their consumers. There are no signs that this is going away any time soon.”
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Roberta De Martino
Senior Communication Manager EMEA
Communications Director, EMEA
 For the analysis, Nielsen Germany evaluated the media channels TV, radio, print, online, out-of-home, cinema, radio and direct mail in the period 1 January 2022 until 31 May 2023.