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Advertising Association

6 min read Partner content

Former OMD and BBDO US CEO to lead US chapter of advertising’s climate action initiative. All stakeholders in US advertising invited to join.

John Osborn, former OMD US and BBDO New York CEO, has been appointed to lead Ad Net Zero USA and help grow its supporter base as the world’s advertising industry responds to the climate crisis. This follows the announcement this summer at LIONS to roll-out Ad Net Zero internationally, a decisionbacked by the world’s major advertising agency holding companies, dentsu international, Havas, Interpublic Group, Omnicom, Publicis Groupe and WPP, along with Unilever – one of the world’s largest advertisers, global tech companies, Google and Meta, plus European media company Sky. Osborn’s appointment and the development of the Ad Net Zero USA chapter is also supported by USA trade bodies, ANA, 4A’s and the IAB, the WFA representing global advertisers, European and global agency associations, EACA and Voxcomm, and the IAA. 

Osborn’s remit will be to build on the commitments made by the Global Group to adopt the Ad Net Zero 5-point action plan into its US businesses, driving systemic change in the way the industry works and through the work it makes. Osborn’s appointment comes with an open invitation to US companies to join a chapter focused on specifically addressing the challenges and opportunities in the US ad market, which represents around 40% of the world’s advertising spend.

Ad Net Zero USA will be participating in Advertising Week New York with sessions, networking and special VIP reception at the British Consulate, hosted by Stillwell Partners and the British Government. Osborn will also be talking about sustainability and the US ad market’s response at the ANA’s Masters of MarketingConference the following week and will join the stellar line-up of speakers at the Ad Net Zero Global Summit on November 9 & 10.

Sebastian Munden, Chair of Ad Net Zero and former Executive Vice President, Unilever UK & Ireland said: “John is a brilliant addition to the Ad Net Zero team at just the right moment as we push forward to make long-lasting changes to the advertising industry around the world. The US ad market is pivotal to this, both for its scale and impact, and as a bellwether for other advertising markets. His energy, passion and commitment to tackling this challenge which affects us all is infectious, and I urge any organisation working in the US advertising market to join him because collective action is vital to bring about swift action.”

John Osborn, Ad Net Zero USA Director, said: “I have witnessed first-hand through my work with the American Red Cross the very frightening impact of climate change. It’s happening now, it’s happening here in the USA and it’s happening all around the world. Most say they care about the environment. But, to care is to act. Right now, we all have a tremendous responsibility to mitigate our impact and help build a more sustainable way of life. It’s time for action and to join Ad Net Zero.”

The search for the Ad Net Zero USA Director role was handled by global executive search firm and Ad Net Zero supporter, Grace Blue.

About Ad Net Zero

The Ad Net Zero 5-point action plan pledges to decarbonise advertising operations, with businesses committing to robust, verified plans to reduce their emissions. It also pledges to use the power of advertising to accelerate the switch to more sustainable products and services for consumers. The programme provides a roadmap for action in all ad markets, with the flexibility to adapt and develop-market specific solutions. It offers tools readily available internationally, like the AdGreen carbon calculator to help to measure and reduce emissions from advertising production. 

The global advertising industry, as measured by advertising media investment, was worth $594,322bn in 2020. The top 20 advertising markets account for 89.3% of this spend and these markets will be the focus for the rollout of the programme following the US and Europe.

Ad Net Zero received a WFA President’s Award at Global Marketer Week in Athens earlier this year, in recognition of the cross-industry collaboration to drive essential operational change. The global roll-out follows formation of the first international chapter of Ad Net Zero in Ireland, led by the country’s trade association, the Institute of Advertising Practitioners in Ireland (IAPI). 

The second Ad Net Zero Global Summit will take place on November 9-10 as an online event, free to attend for all advertising professionals from around the world. The summit’s agenda will cover the progress being made on the implementation of Ad Net Zero and the challenges to be tackled by the world’s advertising community.

About John Osborn

John most recently served as Chief Executive Officer of OMD USA. In his 5 years running the 1,800 personnetwork, he integrated the agency’s brand, data & analytics and performance media practices in a combined-services model, while overseeing the agency’s transformation into a modern day, precision-based, agile and nimble media powerhouse. He also reignited growth, overseeing a string of new business wins, including Clorox, The Home Depot, Georgia Pacific, SNAP and LegalZoom, among others. John also served as a contributing member of the Worldwide Executive Committee, and he helped propel OMD Worldwide to being crowned “Global Media Agency ofthe Year” consecutively in 2019 and 2020 by AdWeek, and Cannes Lion “Global Media Network of the Year” this past June.

John joined OMD in 2017 after 25 years with BBDO, where he served as President and CEO of the New York creative Agency for 13 years. Under John’s leadership, BBDO New York more than doubled revenues, expanded its client base to include categories like BtoB, retail, healthcare and more, and diversified its workforce. He also led the agency’s transformation into data, marketing science and communications planning. The result: BBDO New York was named Agency of the Year more than 20 times by various media outlets.

John has served as Chairman of the Board of the American Advertising Federation (AAF), the “unifying voice for advertising,” and he remains active on the Board. More recently, John was elected to the Board of Directors for The Advertising Council.

John has been equally active outside business, lending his talents to other important causes. For 15 years, John served on the Board of Directors of the Police Athletic League of New York, and he served in the role as President of the Board for 10 years working closely with the Commissioner’s Office of the NYPD and the District Attorney’s office to serve over 40,000 underprivileged children of New York City.

He is currently the Chairman of the Board of the American Red Cross of Greater New York, President of and on the Board of the Woodstock Foundation in Woodstock, Vermont.

In recognition of his accomplishments, John was a recipient of a 2012 AdColor Award celebrating diversity champions in advertising, media, marketing, and public relations. In 2003, he was inducted into the AAF Hall of Achievement, which honors people 40 years of age or under for their contributions to business. He has also been named to the Crain’s New York Business list of “40 under 40” as well as BtoB magazine’s “Who’s Who in BtoB.” In 2006, John was named a “Young Global Leader” by the World Economic Forum. 

Top 20 global advertising markets as of 2020 (Source: WARC)

1. USA

2. China

3. Japan

4. UK

5. Germany

6. France

7. Australia

8. Canada

9. Korea, Rep

10. Brazil

11. Italy

12. Russia

13. India

14. Spain

15. Austria

16. Pan Arab

17. Indonesia

18. Netherlands

19. Mexico

20. Philippines


Associated Organisation
Engineering a Better World

The Engineering a Better World podcast series from The House magazine and the IET is back for series two! New host Jonn Elledge discusses with parliamentarians and industry experts how technology and engineering can provide policy solutions to our changing world.

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