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What role should the marketing industry play in the environmental crisis?

Shouting slogans loud and clear on the urgent need for the government to act, against pipelines, against the meat industry and more, nearly half a million people walked the streets of Montreal on September 27th as part of the global climate demonstration. As we walked with them, we asked ourselves the question: beyond the slogans, what is the role of the advertising, communication and marketing industry in the face of this environmental crisis?

Photos by MANNY
Words by Jenève et Catherine

"We have the potential to educate our clients on their current impact. We must encourage them to question their traditional business practices, to reinvent themselves, and to implement concrete actions, so that tomorrow will be better than yesterday.

We have the potential to instill in them a vision of business where societal impact is not at the expense of their financial performance, but rather for the benefit of it. Where actions, not slogans, speak for themselves. Where what’s real is really the only thing that matters.

We have the potential to make them realize that the consumer they are trying to reach will be loyal to them if they act with conviction and are consistent in their communications.

We have a duty to challenge the brief and make sure we don’t fall into X-Washing traps with them."

- Jean-Philippe Shoiry, Head of Strategy and Operations at Republik

Last week, during the march against climate change, we had the opportunity to discuss with various people in the community about the role of marketing in the environmental crisis.

Together, we elaborated on the behaviours we can adopt to create a maximum amount of positive impact, and do better for our society. Here is what we learned

1. Our role with our clients

The role of agencies, our role, is beginning to change and goes far beyond the message. The reason is simple: we cannot advise our customers to communicate their positive impact on the environment if their actions are not consistent with what they say. We must educate them to do more and, above all, to do better.

For companies that offer new ways of doing things and more sustainable solutions, it is important to find the right way to communicate their actions so that they can inspire others to follow suit.

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Crowd on Mont-Royal on climate strike day

2. Give a voice to sustainable activities

Not all businesses are willfully encouraging over-consumption or polluting our rivers. Many of them are created with the goal of changing the world, and many are changing their ways of doing things to take better care of resources and the world around them.

As marketers, we are here to ensure that the actions they take on a daily basis inspire those who still think it is not up to them to take action.

To achieve this, we must find the right ways to make them shine, without falling into the "greenwashing" or eco-washing traps.

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Citation de Maïté Indacochéa de ERA Solution
Banners on buildings on climate strike day
Stéfany Chevalier quote from QUiNTUS Marketing
Maxim Garant-Rousseau quote from GSoft

3. Take concrete actions internally

It is well known that every little action counts, so what if our workplace encouraged us to adopt more environmentally responsible measures on a daily basis? Beyond just printing on both sides of the paper, there are a multitude of initiatives that can be implemented at the office. In addition, businesses that offer products could focus on quality and sustainability. These two aspects are often neglected by many in order to offer more competitive prices… which encourage overconsumption.

We strongly invite you to consult our article on 8 ways to take action at work, written for Earth Day, which can inspire you to adopt sustainable practices.

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Quote from Jeremy Duhamel, Demain Dimanche
Banner on a tree on climate strike day in Montreal
Quote from Remi Turcotte, Turko Marketing

In short, we must use our strength as communicators to speak louder.

We marketers all agree on the power we collectively have to sound the alarm to the businesses that hire us.

What if we forgot our allegiances for a moment?

If the people of Quebec are slow to change their habits, it may be because they do not understand that it is imperative that they do so. In this context, everyone’s most important client becomes the planet.

Above all else, we are specialists in images, words, rhetoric, presentations, frankness.

Through this talent for communication, we are the best placed to ensure that everyone understands the urgency of the climate situation.

Let's do it.

Quote from Sacha Lauzier-Bonnette, Orkestra


As a content editor, Jenève she helps everyone, colleagues and clients alike, to review their consumption habits in order to make them more responsible.