Africa: A New Model Leverages the Power of the Media to Win Hearts and Minds for Climate Action

press release

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in partnership with the non-profit organization Blue Life launched this week an innovative media model to support climate action. Bringing together some of the biggest media owners and advertisers, the initiative seeks to transform the contribution that paid media advertisers and media owners can make to climate action.

The pioneering model, operationalized as 'Media4Planet', allow companies (advertisers) to direct a portion of their paid media advertising through the model, converting profit margins into a funding source for climate-related projects, such as mangrove restoration and renewable energy, and retaining a proportion of the media space for climate positive messaging from UNEP.

Thanks to the model, UNEP has secured just over 2 million euros of TV advertising space and will reach nearly 30 million adults aged between 35-59 and 68 million adults in total with a new TV spot designed to inspire in viewers a positive and optimistic attitude towards climate action.

"We are excited to see advertisers and the media industry throw their weight behind global efforts to reverse the climate crisis."

Niklas Hagelberg, UNEP's Climate Change Coordinator

Over $500 billion dollars a year is spent on paid media advertising, returning significant profit to the media industry involved in the buying and selling of advertising space. But there is ever-growing awareness of the gravity of the climate crisis, and advertisers, consumers and industry leaders increasingly want to be part of the solution.

"We are excited to see advertisers and the media industry throw their weight behind global efforts to reverse the climate crisis," says Niklas Hagelberg, the UNEP's Climate Change Coordinator. "The climate emergency urges us to find new ways to expand and accelerate the rising tide of public support for climate action, especially in an increasingly fragmented media and content landscape. By reaching a mainstream audience of 30 million people through this one-country pilot alone, we see huge potential in this partnership's capacity to ensure UNEP's message of the importance and opportunities of climate action reaches many more people worldwide. We're very grateful to our partner Blue Life, and their implementing partners who have worked tirelessly to bring this to life."

While there are now high levels of awareness of climate change, there remains confusion and misinformation about what actions are necessary and wide misapprehension that climate action will have a negative impact on peoples' lives.

Paid advertising media space offers the thoughtful targeting necessary to efficiently reach mainstream audiences and address these misconceptions. However, paid media space is usually prohibitively expensive. To solve this, at the core of the partnership's concept is the idea that as media space is bought and sold, instead of creating profits margins with each trade, could some of the space be retained for climate positive messages, and therefore transform UNEP's ability to reach widespread mainstream audiences with climate positive messages.

UNEP partnered with NGO Blue Life to operationalize the idea, leveraging Blue Life's experience and relationships with the media industry. Blue Life and its partners set up 'Media4Planet', bringing together leadership and talent from global media networks.

The new UNEP TV spot "climate action today for all our future tomorrows" was produced pro-bono by advertising agency Saint Elmos, Hamburg, on behalf of Blue Life. The campaign's goal is to change attitudes of mainstream public audiences who are caught somewhere between being "for" or "against" climate action and to shift negative or neutral attitudes towards the more positive, optimistic and hopeful. Viewers of the spot inspired to find out more are directed to the United Nations' Act Now campaign for individual climate action.

The spot premiers this week on ProSieben, Germany's largest TV channel. The campaign will then be broadcast across all ProSiebenSat.1 Group channels until November, and will be supported with digital media buys.

Early next year, the partnership will expand to multiple countries across Europe, and then aims for a G20-wide footprint within 2021, in the run-up to the UNFCCC Climate Conference of the Parties (COP26) in November 2021, the world's largest climate conference which is urgently calling for accelerated action on climate change.

For more information, please contact Niklas Hagelberg: [email protected]

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