Carbon Footprinting Walking Wide and Loose

One of the world’s biggest advertising agencies is BBDO, based in New York and the first ad agency to set up its own inhouse printing facility, way back in 1894. FedEx and Gillet are amongst BBDO’s clients and the company boasts some great achievements in its history. One more can be added: Cut! CO2, the Carbon Film Quote, although it’s odd that they couldn’t come up with something a little bit snappier, given their line of business.

The initiative is all part of BBDO’s effort towards becoming first certified low carbon advertising agency in the world. We don’t quite know yet the whos and hows of the certification but the basic idea is one that we salute. Quite how an auditor would certify lowness is also a bit nebulous.

According to BBDO more than 11,000 television adverts are shot worldwide every year, and it costs 30 million airmiles and USD1.6 billion to film them. In terms of CO2 tonnage BBDO say that all these ads produce the equivalent of the total amount of CO2 that California generates: 200,000 tonnes per day. Of course California would generate a lot less if its citizens used their state’s native sunshine instead of tumble dryers to dry their clothes, but that’s another story. Back to BBDO which has essentially developed a carbon calculator.

The calculator takes into account all aspects of a film shoot including travel, locations, accommodation, equipment, catering and energy, and works out what the carbon footprint is for each. It then works out how the overall footprint can be reduced through improved planning and logistics. The purpose is “to design and plan more CO2 effective productions” which is what printers do every except that their purpose is generally to reduce cost rather than CO2. But the point is the same: nine tenths of anything is preparation.

The BBC, Greenpeace and Proctor & Gamble are among a number of clients which have already embraced the calculator. It even includes a print module, however the data’s robustness is not really clear. But at least BBDO is making an impressive effort. Check it out here:

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/Laurel Brunner

The Verdigris supporters who made it possible to write this article are: Agfa GraphicsCanon EuropeDigital Dots,drupaEFIEcoPrintFespaHPPragati OffsetRicohSplash PRUnity PublishingXeikon and Xerox.

This work by The Verdigris Project is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.