Meet A.L.I.C.E.; Publicis Groupe’s Carbon Calculator

Three years in the making, with one quest in mind, making the world a cleaner place. Zenith Media Canada, as part of the Publicis Group, embarks on a journey with their clients, to support lowering carbon emissions.

Climate change has a direct effect on all populations regardless of where they live or where they work. Especially true for the Canadian advertising industry, which has a high concentration of agencies, located near the shores of Lake Ontario in Toronto, Ontario. Seeing the great lake from office windows each day, one can’t help thinking about the impact that carbon emissions have on the lake and the ecosystem it supports. 

Advertising professionals have a unique ability to directly impact the reduction of carbon emissions as they plan for, produce, and execute campaigns across creative, production, events, and media. A simple example lies in production of assets. The diverse Canadian weather means that it is not always possible to shoot commercial assets locally, requiring travel. Printed promotional materials are slowly giving way to more carbon friendly digital assets, however some clients still rely on fliers or bespoke magazines to help them achieve their desired results.

As humans, ensuring sustainability is imperative. It’s our survival at stake. As advertising professionals, we must lead the way, embrace every opportunity to educate clients, as they ask us to tell them more about the environmental impact of their marketing and communications. Moving towards the goal of being proactive about educating them on ways we can support lowering their footprint. The advertising industry has a key role to play in helping to change the conversation and making business practices more environmentally accountable worldwide. 

Publicis Groupe, the 2022 Ad Age Holding Company of the Year, and parent of Zenith Media, saw the need to ensure that both its employees and clients could lead the fight in protecting our Great Lakes and natural resources. In 2003, it was the first communications company to join the UN’s Global Compact, focusing on limiting environmental impacts. By 2015, the company had signed the French Business Climate Pledge supporting the Paris Agreement and its 1.5°C scenario. By 2021, the Groupe’s targets had been achieved early. Though we paused to celebrate early achievement of our commitments, it stemmed conversations on what was to come next. The group set new targets, with an achievement deadline of 2030. These are with the 1.5°C scenario of the Paris Agreement and have been validated by the SBTi (Science Based Targets Initiative).

Publicis Groupe’s 2030 Targets are:

  • Reduction by 47% for the scopes 1 & 2 
    • Scope 1 & 2 relates to direct and indirect (owned) emissions
  • Reduction by 14% for the scope 3
    • Scope 2 related to indirect emissions (not owned) and is the hardest to monitor. Reporting on this is voluntary. 
  • Shift to 100% Renewable sources of energy
  • Achieve Net Zero before 2030

In order to hit the goals, Publicis Groupe identified 7 levers around resource use and emissions reductions, where both collective and individual behaviors can impact change. To put it simply, the company challenged everyone to Consume Less & Better.

Stemming from our clients, whom are also environmentally conscious, and seeking new ways to solve for the linger question, “what is the environmental impact of my campaign and materials,” were the key to lever number five; A.L.I.C.E.  A.L.I.C.E (Advertising Limiting Impacts & Carbon Emissions) is a proprietary carbon calculator designed to bring Eco-design and Eco-production as the new normal. Across the business, teams needed to better understand and limit the environmental impact of their work in terms of carbon emissions. 

A.L.I.C.E.  is an internal platform allowing teams to carry out a simulation of the carbon emissions generated by a Client’s project or campaign, according to decisions taken regarding format, production, and energy consumption for example. The output is aligned with GHG Protocol and methodology and calculations are supervised by Bureau Veritas, bringing its expertise in calculations, and acting as an independent third party. A.L.I.C.E can be used as a guide for teams and clients to assist them with any decisions about reducing or offsetting this impact. 

Employees and clients alike are embracing the A.L.I.C.E. platform, each with their own connection to the natural environment and the Great Lakes. For example, Nikki Stone, EVP & Managing Director of Zenith Media Canada has a deep-rooted passion for the environment that was fueled by her dad. Growing up near Lake Erie, Nikki found a love for the Great Lakes at a young age, and today is active on the board of the Council of the Great Lakes Region. “The A.L.I.C.E. platform is something we aim to have every team member trained on, to provide our Clients and their campaigns with options that can show them how they can have the lowest carbon emissions possible. Every bit helps, and the more we use this as a best practice, the quicker the carbon reduction.”

More than 80,000 of Publicis Groupe employees around the world have access to the proprietary carbon calculator, and getting there was no small feat. Building a ‘universal’ calculator that’s accessible to everyone, is easy to understand and use, and provides immediate results, was a journey that took three years. The journey is ongoing, and innovations and tools like A.L.I.C.E will be critical to supporting carbon reduction priorities and bringing awareness to our clients on how we can have an impact on reducing emissions through media campaigns.

About the Author:

Nicole Macpherson, Vice President, Business Lead, Zenith Media Canada

Nicole Macpherson has over 20 years’ experience working in the media industry spanning both client and agency roles. She is passionate about achieving results for her client partners and driving achievement within her team.

About Zenith Media Canada:

Zenith Media Canada is a proud part of the Publicis Groupe, with a position in the market as being the ROI agency. As a long standing industry leader, we are well known for the Zenith Market Place predictions we share; but to our clients, we are known as a trusted partner who supports driving their business results. 

Recently accredited as a Great Place to Work, with a notable, Great Place to Work for Today’s Youth, as well as a LinkedIn top 25 company to grow in Canada; Zenith remains focused on our most valuable ROI, Return on Individual.

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