Why Sustainability is PR’s Hottest Topic

Published on 25 October 2021

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So far, 2021 has seen numerous brand campaigns based upon sustainability and eco-conscious living. With many eco-focused conferences that’s happening this year (for example the G7 Summit in Cornwall, Cop26 or the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference), brands and agencies have been more than eager to involve themselves in driving the conversation on world issues; such as climate change, and take on projects that highlight the importance of awareness and inspire change, to combat the on-going climate emergency.

E-waste generation, rising sea levels, increased carbon emissions from meat production, and the use of unsustainable transportation methods are just a few of the contributing issues addressed through thoughtful campaigns and sustainable PR stunts.

Some of the world’s most well-known brands and businesses have already made sustainability a high priority in recent years by making environmentally responsible decisions. To showcase this proactivity, brands are collaborating with different agencies to create outstanding PR stunts and sustainable marketing campaigns with the aim to have an influence on eco-conscious thinking and to deliver a positive message to the public that encourages action.

Here’s a list of our favourite sustainability-themed, environmental PR stunts from the recent:

musicMagpie: Mount Recyclemore

Every year, approximately 50 million tonnes of electronic waste are generated and dumped in poor countries without being properly processed, polluting the surrounding communities and living environments (The Word Counts, 2021). To draw attention to this global issue, Fanclub PR approached us on behalf of musicMagpie with the brilliant concept of creating an e-waste sculpture that was put at Carbis Bay beach to send a message to the G7 leaders about the urgent environmental damage caused by e-waste. The Mount-Rushmore styled sculpture of the G7’s leaders’ heads, made entirely of discarded electronics was installed to highlight the growing threat of e-waste on the planet and to spark the conversation about the waste culture that is surrounding us.

The successful PR stunt has been covered in various media outlets and has recently found a new home at Eden Project, where it can be visited for an entire year.

Quorn – Roarsomes Vegan Dinosaurs

According to the United Nations Environment Programme, animal products, both meat and dairy, use more resources and emit more pollution than plant-based alternatives, making the food production industry one of the leading contributors to the current global climate emergency.

To encourage families to explore more meat-free alternatives with their new vegan dinosaur-shaped nuggets, Quorn has commissioned Adam & Eve/DDB to install a billboard showcasing a 3-metre high animatronic T-rex.

The billboard was built to raise awareness of the growing importance of plant-based diets and their positive effects on the environment, as well as the urgent need to discuss climate change at the same time as the IPCC’s report declared ‘code red’ for the planet’s survival.

This PR stunt didn’t just steal the kids’ hearts but ended up covered in various media outlets as well.

Interflora – Sunflower Hotel

Staycation vacations have grown in popularity in the last two years (thanks to strict lockdowns and travel restrictions), and now people are being more aware of local options when it comes to taking a well-deserved break from the hectic pace of modern life.

Interflora, a flower delivery brand in collaboration with Kip & Nook, have installed a shipping container to a North Yorkshire field and transformed it into a living space covered entirely with sunflowers.

With transportation being one of the leading causes of global warming and CO2 emissions, the stunt also aimed to send a strong positive message about being more sustainable and choosing alternative modes of transportation and accommodations.

Corona – Wave of Waste

For World Oceans Day, Sketch Events collaborated with Wieden + Kennedy, Corona’s global advertising agency, to design, build, and install a one-of-a-kind enormous wave installation made entirely of plastic waste.

The Marine Conservation Society collected the plastic in the United Kingdom, including trash from Holywell Beach. The total weight of the plastic was 1,200kg, which is the amount of marine plastic waste found every two miles on UK beaches.

Corona takes the issue of marine plastic pollution seriously and is raising awareness by inserting plastic into another place it doesn’t belong with an eye-catching interactive installation.

Corona Wave of Waste installation

giffgaff – Take the pledge POP UP

Giffgaff, a mobile network company, set up a pop-up store in the heart of Covent Garden with 100 refurbished goods to sell – except that none of them were for sale.

People were asked to make a pledge in order to enter the store, and in exchange, they could choose from a selection of refurbished goods.

With 2.12 billion tons of waste being dumped every year (The World Counts, 2021), Giffgaff wanted to highlight ways to shop more sustainably, reuse items instead of rebuying them, and/or use recycled or refurbished products.

Extinction Rebellion – The Sinking House

The planet is rapidly warming, and melting sea ice and glaciers have played a significant role in this. The sun is reflected back into space by the ice, cooling the Earth’s surface. With ice caps melting and sea levels rising, extreme weather conditions are affecting people all over the world (floodings, wildfires, landslides, hurricanes, etc.).

Extinction Rebellion activists staged a sinking house (built by Katey Burak and Rob Higgson) the Thames to draw attention to the global issue and send a message about the ongoing disaster caused by rising sea levels.

The stunt ended up on the cover of various national and international outlets creating conversations all around the world.

Sustainable PR stunts have the power to spark the conversation and to deliver strong messaging in a way that makes people think and most importantly, in a way that makes people feel. 

We hope that this short list has been useful for you. For further inspiration, check out some of the Sustainable PR projects we’ve done in the past.