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Can Marketing Save the Planet - Ep 47: Speak Up Now - Marketing in times of climate crisis’ - creating credible Storylines with Author and Strategist - Wim Vermeulen
28th November 2022 • The Marketing Society podcast • The Marketing Society podcast
00:00:00 00:33:13

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Do you ask yourself as a marketer, “with all the decisions I took today, did I accelerate the transition to net zero, or slow it down? If the conclusion at the end of the day is that you slowed it down - well you really don’t want to be there. Accelerating the transition is where marketers need to be.”

Wim advises that all marketers should ‘put the planet in the room’ - literally. Tune in to the third question we ask all guests in our round up - as to how this action changes everything.

It’s a fantastic discussion - with loads of takeaways… we talk science, language, communication and more with Wim Vermeulen, Director of Strategy and Sustainability at Bubka, and author of ‘Speak up Now! Marketing in Times of Climate Crisis’. A book Wim felt he had to write so he could share all his learnings through the work he’s been doing with the University of Ghent around when and how climate communication is successful and when it’s not.

From his research across a range of sectors reviewing the language and impact of sustainability focused storylines and campaigns - the findings show that there’s a huge credibility gap in every sector - only 9.7% of sustainable campaigns are actually credible. The fact that over 90% of people don’t believe sustainability storylines led the research team to dissect what actually does drive credibility. Wim shares 5 key drivers - and you really don’t want to miss what he has to say around these. As they are critical drivers for marketers to consider with every brief or project.

Wim highlights the need to not only look at ‘supply side’, but equally urgent, the ‘demand side’, and how a conversation he had with IPCC lead author Prof. Dr. Felix Creutzig explained the need for, ‘social norming of sustainable consumption, and the global reductions that can bring.’ Addressing the ‘demand side’ is something that cannot be ignored, but as Wim explained, “in 2021, in Europe, 48% of products launched were climate friendly, but then, if you look a pricing across industries and products, the average premium for a climate friendly product is 75-85%, so that’s now a choice.” Wim goes on to explain that, “Bain calculated the average cost to decarbonise a product was less than 5% of the total cost on average”. This goes against the objective of changing behaviours as once again price becomes the default reason for purchase, demand isn’t being created for climate friendly products in the way that it should be and, profit is being placed over planet and people.

Sometimes as marketers, our need to call something by a different name to make it stand out, or more impactful can actually do more harm than good, and when the need for everyone to move in the same direction is so critical, we cannot afford there to be confusion, as it slows progress.

“We need to stop inventing terms. Everything has been defined by scientists. Trust the science. There are 10 key terms - defined by climate scientists, that’s the Bible - use it!”

There is so much in this episode as Wim talks through some examples of organisations who are leading the way, leadership and once again the role of marketing and communications is highlighted as critical in moving us towards a more sustainable future. So, tune in and have a listen!!

For more about Wim’s work, books, research and documentaries visit


You’ll find the Podcast on all the usual pod platforms - and if you love it, do share it and spread the word. Talking about climate change and the role we play is one of the most important things we can do. So join the conversation. We’re all in this together.

Our podcasts are recorded purely via online conferencing platforms, we apologise for any minor sound quality issues.