EACA in Ad Net Zero Summit: Sustainability, a View from Europe

EACA hosted the panel A View from Europe, in which Christian de La Villehuchet (EACA, Havas) and Alexis Bley (EACA) were in conversation with representatives of EACA members Saša Leben (SOZ) and Caroline Darmon (AACC, Publicis) about the current legislation and sustainable business objectives in Europe in the framework of the Ad Net Zero Global Summit, celebrated in London on the 9th and 10th of November. 

These were the topics that were tackled in the panel: 


The first self-regulated code comes from the International Chamber of Commerce of marketing and communication (ICC) which has a dedicated chapter on environmental claims and has been implemented by self-regulated organisations on a national level. In parallel, on a self-regulated point of view, marketers’ and agencies’ global initiative has been backed up by VoxComm and ICAS. 

On the other hand, the globe guidance on environmental claims is an initiative led by WFA and it identifies 6 key principles that marketers need to follow to maintain their trustworthiness and avoid situations in which their brands could be accused of greenwashing. 

Product initiative and the challenges behind it 

The sustainable product initiative taken by the European Commission intends to make upgradable, repairable, reusable and recyclable products on the European market. For advertisers and agencies, this means there will be a high amount of green claims because brands would want to promote the ecological components of their products more and more, which will lead to the agencies’ challenge to navigate the expectations from brands that will be translated afterwards to the consumers’ expectations.  

Another obstacle that has to be overcome is on the corporate and social environmental responsibility level: most of these proposals require large companies to disclose information about the way they operate and manage social and environmental challenges. This shows that there is an increase in transparency for the value chain of companies on economic activities and sustainability will play a bigger part in maintaining companies’ reputations.   

Sustainability in the French market 

Caroline Darmon (AACC) shared the French market’s perspective on the regulations related to the LOI Climat prohibition on advertising of fossil fuels as well as amplifying strict rules on environmental claims. The French Associations of Communication Agencies (AACC) has also signed its climate contract as well as other many creative agencies. The contract gives a useful framework to implement the changes and raise awareness through training employees on the subject. It is also a good framework to play the role of adviser to the clients – to not only challenge them when promoting services or products but also the value of the messages they want to convey. 

Sustainability in the Slovenian market 

Saša Leben, Vice President of the Slovenian Advertising Agencies Association (SOZ), joined the conversation explaining the Slovenian initiative in the issue. In her words, sustainability is not a necessity nor a choice. All clients, agencies and organisations have the responsibility of changing the world for the better.  

What SOZ actually does is explain to both advertisers and agencies the different roles the advertising industry could play in the sustainability process. In one situation it could be a supplier and in others the production house. Leben pointed out that it is not only the work but also the choices we make in our daily life and how we develop a sustainable way in it to showcase it to the different public.  

The role of EACA and advertising agencies  

As president of EACA,  Christian de La Villehuchet highlighted the Association role as a leading force and example to the industry. For this purpose, the EACA has created a sustainability task force to provide tools and guidance to the national organisations and agencies regarding the environment.   

The main role of agencies is to make an impact on the clients’ and companies’ behaviours for repurposing themselves in taking initiative in reducing global warming.   

In his words, this is the industry that strongly stands behind the saying “Communication can drive action”. It is shown when all of these companies communicate about the issue, they are able to act and share what they do and how they do it. Communication agencies can also drive consumers’ behaviour changes, but they should always keep in mind that it’s on them to set the example and be the advisor in these particular times.