Pooja Dindigal, DEPT: "Our commitment to sustainability isn't just a checkbox—it's deeply ingrained in everything we do."

Agencies play a significant role in prompting transparent and ethical sustainable messaging

von India Fizer , AdForum

DEPT®
Digital
Amsterdam, Niederlande
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Pooja Dindigal
Global Head of Impact DEPT®
 

When it comes to sustainable messaging and driving actual impact, authenticity is key and it's imperative that one's actions speak louder than words. Catching up with Pooja Dindigal, the Global Head of Impact at certified B-corp DEPT, she proves that by working together, the advertising industry can drive meaningful change toward better environmental habits.

 

How are you advising clients on sustainable messaging and product development?

When it comes to advising clients on sustainable messaging and product development, we're all about keeping it real, getting creative, and making sure our actions speak louder than words. Here are a few ways we try to bring about change:

Impactful Authenticity: We're all about diving into projects where we can genuinely make a positive impact. Take Evrnu, for instance. Their sustainable textile tech is a real game-changer. When we teamed up with them, we make sure our messaging was crystal clear, so users could see the uniqueness of their innovation.

Creative Engagement: Let's be real — talking about climate change can be a bit heavy and sometimes we get stuck in this gloominess. That's why we try to sprinkle in some creativity to make it more compelling and interesting. For our client Trainline, we came up with "I came by train" -  It's catchy and fun, right? By adding a dash of creativity, we can grab attention and spark real interest in making a difference.

Actions Speak Louder: It's not just about talking; it's about walking the walk too. When we tackle big issues like gender inequality or inclusion, we make sure our actions match our words. That means not just diverse faces in a campaign, but also working with a diverse set of people throughout the whole process - this means making conscious decisions in the casting of our teams, our partners, and even vendors.

 

Have you implemented any sustainability initiatives in your own workflow? If so, can you tell us what steps other agencies can take to lead by example and adopt sustainable practices within their own operations?

Our commitment to sustainability isn't just a checkbox — it's deeply ingrained in everything we do. As a Certified B Corp, we've been on this journey for years, constantly striving to weave sustainability and impact into the very fabric of our business. Sure, it's had its hurdles, but it's a journey of continual learning, accountability, and adaptation.

Recently we launched our DEPT® Digital Ethics Advisory Panel. This volunteer-led initiative plays a crucial role in helping us navigate the ethical landscape of artificial intelligence and emerging tech. From AI to privacy to misinformation, this panel helps us ensure that the tools we use and the products we build are not only cutting-edge but also socially responsible. It's all about mitigating any potential negative impacts and fostering a digital ecosystem that serves everyone ethically.

But it doesn't stop there. We've set explicit targets to drive our sustainability efforts forward. One such target is our focus on "impactful projects" — those that inherently contribute to positive societal change by supporting purpose-driven organizations or developing products and services with a clear social benefit. By the end of 2025, we're aiming to have over 15% of our revenue derived from these impactful projects. This isn't just lip service; it's a tangible commitment that drives our teams to seek out and champion purposeful work.

 

In what ways can agencies help promote sustainable practices and drive meaningful change towards environmental protection?

Agencies play a critical role in driving meaningful change toward environmental protection by not only advocating for sustainability but also by implementing concrete actions within their operations. Here are some examples of where impact can be fostered to drive change:

Leading by Example: Agencies need to mirror the sustainability efforts of their clients, especially those with significant environmental footprints. This means measuring and reducing emissions, managing waste and water more efficiently, and encouraging sustainable practices among suppliers and vendors. By demonstrating a commitment to sustainability in their own operations, agencies can establish credibility as genuine partners and collaborators in driving environmental change.

Addressing Industry Gaps: Agencies should proactively identify and address areas within the industry where there is a lack of clarity or understanding regarding environmental impact. One significant gap currently is the ambiguity surrounding the environmental footprint of advertisements. While it's understood that certain forms of advertising, such as Super Bowl ads, are more emissions-intensive than others, there is a lack of standardized measurement methods. Agencies need to collaborate with industry stakeholders to develop clear and credible metrics for assessing the environmental impact of advertisements. By filling these knowledge gaps and working collectively on industry-wide issues, agencies can contribute to a more sustainable advertising ecosystem.

Promoting Collaboration: Driving meaningful change towards environmental protection requires collaboration across the industry. Agencies should actively engage with peers, clients, and other stakeholders to share best practices, insights, and resources. By fostering a culture of collaboration and knowledge-sharing, agencies can accelerate progress toward sustainability goals and collectively address environmental challenges.

 

What is your POV on advertising’s responsibility to take action in shifting consumer preferences towards eco-conscious practices, brands, and products?

The advertising industry is hugely influential, and we’ve used that power for good. But we’ve also used that power in ways we didn’t intend to have such a profoundly negative impact on society. For example, advertising companies are somewhat responsible for shifting the blame for plastic pollution from companies to consumers. That idea is all but ubiquitous, and the impact of those campaigns still touches our daily lives. 

We have to take accountability for how influential advertising can be and use that influence to be an uncapped force for good. We may not have 70 years to get it right, but we can accelerate to educate consumers, be credible & knowledgeable partners to the brands we work with and prioritize sustainable and impactful knowledge of our past missteps, such as deflecting responsibility for environmental issues onto consumers.

It's time to take accountability and use our influence for good. By prioritizing sustainability messaging, partnering with eco-conscious brands, and promoting transparent and ethical advertising, we can accelerate the shift towards a more environmentally conscious society.