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Media Smart to Help Young People Understand Environmental Claims in Advertising

Advertising Association

3 min read Partner content

Education pack about Advertising Standards Authority guidance, in recognition of concerns felt by 52% of teenagers about lack of action on climate change

London, 28 February 2023: UK advertising’s award-winning non-profit education programme, Media Smart, has launched an awareness campaign for teachers, parents and young people to help them understand environmental claims in advertising and marketing. It is releasing a simple five-point guide and short film, accompanied by a social media campaign featuring a series of vox pop films from young people, to increase awareness of what constitutes greenwashing and support the work of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

The campaign by the advertising literacy programme is in response to research showing 52% of teenagers are concerned about the lack of action on climate change, with 56% of them feeling anxious about the issue.

Media Smart worked with youth-centred creative business, Livity, to gather invaluable insights from focus groups of young people on how they perceive greenwashing, the areas they are most concerned about, as well as sharing their top tips to spot it. It highlighted how young people feel underprepared and disempowered to be able to find out the information on a company’s environmental practices.

The resulting five-point guide and short film can be shared in classrooms, assemblies or at home to raise awareness of the ASA and how it regulates environmental claims in adverts. It offers advice such as interrogating ‘green’ symbols, being suspicious of buzzwords which aren’t backed up with evidence, and encouraging fact-checking a company’s claim.

An accompanying social media campaign will be rolled out on Media Smart’s social media channels via Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and LinkedIn during March and April, reaching young people, teachers and parents directly with the key messaging.

Dan Clays, Chair of Media Smart and Chief Executive of OMG UK, said: “Raising awareness of how to spot misleading green claims in advertising and marketing is an incredibly important conversation for Media Smart to initiate and builds upon the vital work done by the ASA. Insights from Media Smart’s conversations with young people show they feel a burden to undertake fact-checking when making their purchases. This campaign is built using direct insights from young people for young people to highlight and fill in the gaps in their knowledge about greenwashing and what they expect from brands in this space.”

Rachel Barber-Mack, Director of Media Smart, said: “One of Media Smart’s goals this year was to raise understanding of greenwashing and support the proactive work the Advertising Standards Authority is doing in this area. Over half of the UK’s teenagers feel concerned about the lack of action on climate change, and evidence shows young people want to see greater transparency from corporates and brands, without having to hunt for the information. This new campaign can be shared in all learning settings – whether in classrooms, at home, or via social media itself using the shareable vox pops featuring advice directly from young people.”

Stephen Woodford, CEO, Advertising Association, said: “This is a fantastic new resource to help young people understand how advertising and marketing claims are regulated when it comes to making accurate environmental claims. It is important we do everything we can to make sure our work to promote sustainable products, services and behaviours can be trusted.”

The resources can be downloaded here.

Media Smart also offers a wider range of films and resources to educate young people about advertising literacy, including subjects such as influencer marketing, body image, piracy, creative careers, TikTok and Instagram.

If you are interested in joining Media Smart as an industry partner, please get in touch with Rachel Barber-Mack, Director of Media Smart, at mediasmart@adassoc.org.uk.

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