Ad Net Zero appoints Osborn as USA director

Ad Net Zero appoints Osborn as USA director

John Osborn, former OMD US and BBDO New York CEO, has been appointed to lead Ad Net Zero USA, the US chapter of the UK Advertising Association’s climate action initiative.

Osborn will be tasked with growing Ad Net Zero’s support base in the US by eliciting commitments from US advertising companies to adopt the Ad Net Zero five-point action plan with the goal of reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2030.

The action plan directs companies to:

1. Get your house in order (regarding advertising business operations)

2. Curb emissions from advertising production

3. Curb emissions from media planning and buying

4. Curb advertising emissions through awards and from events (i.e., offering ‘carrots’)

5. Harness advertising’s power to support consumer behavior change

Osborn’s appointment comes with an open invitation to US companies to join the chapter to focus on addressing the challenges and opportunities in the US ad market as it relates to sustainable advertising.

The US market currently represents around 40% of the world’s advertising spend.

On top of serving as CEO of Omnicom media agency OMD for the past five years and his 25 years of work for sister ad agency BBDO, Osborn also served as chairman of the board of the American Advertising Federation (AAF), and remains an active member. He was also recently elected to the board of directors for The Advertising Council.

Outside of work, Osborn is also currently the chairman of the board of the American Red Cross of Greater New York, on the board of the Woodstock Foundation in Woodstock, Vermont, and is president of GlobalDignity.org.

Sebastian Munden, chair of Ad Net Zero and former EVP, Unilever UK & Ireland, said: “The US ad market is pivotal to [making long-lasting changes], both for its scale and impact, and as a bellwether for other advertising markets.”

The US chapter of Ad Net Zero is supported by US trade bodies the ANA, 4As, as well as international bodies the WFA, IAB, Voxcomm, and IAA. The world’s major advertising agency holding companies — Dentsu international, Havas, Interpublic Group, Omnicom, Publicis Groupe, and WPP — as well as Unilever, Google, Meta, Sky (Comcast’s pay-TV business in the UK), and European agency association EACA, are also supporting the chapter.

Osborn said of his appointment: “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 advertising industry’s role in climate change has drawn increased scrutiny from environmental activists this year. Protests at Cannes Lions disrupted the event at multiple junctures, and more recently hundreds of billboards were “hacked” across Europe to call attention to the issue of greenwashing by airline companies.

On top of potentially promoting unsustainable businesses, according to Good-Loop, a typical digital advertising campaign itself produces 5.4 tons of carbon.

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