How Manufacturers Achieved 100% Net Zero Production

What defines “successful” and “excellent” advertising? Is it the amount of attention generated? Is it found by receiving positive feedback from the public? Or is it the number of awards won in the festival circuit? While these three things are undoubtedly representative of “big” advertising, for Canadian beauty company DECIEM, the pursuit of “success” has unfolded in a unique way. Rather than pursue any of these specific things, they have pursued their success in the area of ​​sustainability – challenging the industry to match their dedication to the future of the planet.

Partnering with production company Makers, the two worked together to produce a campaign video that not only served as an effective marketing tool, but was made with 100% net-zero production. By deviating from traditional production standards – such as using LED wall technology instead of moving to various filming locations and investing in wind power from wind farms certified by the United Nations Carbon Offset Platform – the realization of this campaign has proven that the future of advertising can be achieved in an environmentally friendly way, as long as brands and production companies have the will and the care to do so.

LBB’s Josh Neufeldt sat down with Makers executive producer Tasha Jameson to find out how this benchmark was achieved.

LBB> The video was made with 100% net zero production. Why did you decide to do this?

Tasha> There is a lot of talk about sustainable production in our industry, but few meaningful actions. This year, Makers launched an internal sustainability team that is focused on taking tangible action and developing new standards to significantly reduce the carbon footprint in the production process. We wanted to move beyond the current practices of no plastic water bottles on set, composting and recycling – all of which are well-intentioned initiatives but fail to address key areas of waste and pollution. When DECIEM approached us to produce their sustainability story, it was an ideal project for us to showcase the application of our new practices, as we knew that the DECIEM team, like us, has a culture of action – committed to putting action behind his words. DECIEM is a brand that challenges the landscape of beauty and its approach to sustainability. They embed sustainability throughout their entire business model, so we wanted to help them convey that throughout their brand message as well.

LBB> Is this something you have already done? Did you have any expectations for how the shoot would go? And how does the actual experience compare to what you expected?

Tasha > We have run projects with reduced carbon emissions, but this was the first time we achieved 100% net zero. We were optimistic about a net zero result based on our previous learnings, but each project is unique and requires a lot of strategic thinking, collaboration, and a willingness to think and work outside of the status quo. Luckily, on this one, our team was able to come up with a smart solution that seamlessly met the creative, budget, and time requirements.

LBB> Tell us more about the process! How has this goal affected your shooting?

Tasha> We have chosen to focus on the highest carbon emitting areas, which are often travel/transportation and energy. These are conditions required to reach net zero.

The creation involved multiple locations. Instead of traveling to four different filming locations, we used LED volume wall technology – courtesy of our friends at Immersion Room – to replicate these locations from a distance. We basically brought the locations to us and centralized the whole process. This technology can be expensive, so we really had to look for a smaller LED wall that matched our creative request. We worked closely with the Immersion Room team to find savings on schedule and budget wherever possible, including cost-effective stock footage that we could manipulate as needed.

By using this unique studio space and using LED wall technology in place of traditional lighting, the impact on energy and transport has been significantly reduced – right from the start. From there, we worked with each department to ensure as much waste reduction as possible by offering advice, green alternatives and working through every stage of production through the lens of sustainability, until we ended up with a minimal carbon footprint – about 18 times less than what a typical one-day shoot emits. This remaining footprint was then offset by the use of wind energy from wind farms certified by the United Nations carbon offset platform.

LBB> What impact did shooting with 100% net zero production have on the cost, time and amount of effort required? And is it something you can easily do again in the future?

Tasha > While each project’s quest to achieve net zero is unique, we are very happy to have achieved our goal without any impact on budget or schedule. As we integrate these new systems, our levels of effort are of course going to be higher as we work to educate our customers and supplier partners – but it’s a real labor of love.

For this DECIEM project, it took less extra planning than was necessary for proper covid-19 protocols on set, so we know it’s within everyone’s abilities to replicate this success!

As we continue our journey towards sustainability, we are excited to explore other techniques and technologies that offer us the opportunity to further limit our carbon footprint.

LBB> What were the greatest takeaways you had from this experience? If you were on set, do you have any interesting stories or lessons learned?

Tasha > Getting to net zero isn’t that hard if you have the passion and quorum of all partners to get there, and take the time to discuss thoughtful planning from the start. In its simplest terms, it is a question of thinking about each phase of production through the prism of the now famous adage of the 70s: “reduce, reuse, recycle”. By asking questions like, “Do we really need this? », « If so, should it be a new one? and “What is the lifecycle of this item once we’re done with it, and how can we make sure this isn’t its last stop before flushing?” are all very important.

Another easy first step is ensuring things like proper composting and recycling, and promoting carpools when coming to the set. If you want to go further and make a meaningful change, you need to rethink your travel/transportation and your energy consumption. (Examples: do you really need to travel for filming? Can you find versatile locations? Can you use natural light sources or more efficient sources?)

Net zero can be achieved in several ways. We often hear of projects buying carbon offset credits and that’s the end of their story. But we don’t just buy credits; we re-engineer the production process at every stage – and only after each attempt to reduce, reuse and recycle do we offset the remaining carbon footprint using UN-sanctioned schemes. It is important to understand that compensation programs alone are not enough. There must be other systemic changes throughout the production process before investing in compensation

programs that add power to the grid.

LBB> What challenges did you encounter during this project? How did you overcome them?

Tasha > We had never produced to net zero before, and we were working with a short schedule and limited resources. When you don’t have an endless amount of money or time to complete challenges, you need to be crafty. We knew that no matter the outcome, we would push as hard as we could to get to net zero. The DECIEM team wholeheartedly supported this effort and gave us the opportunity and the space to find ways to achieve our collective goal.

Even to our own surprise, we managed to achieve the creative vision without needing to compromise scenes or adjust the final deliverable. As a team, we had many collaborative conversations about types of location backgrounds, angles, lighting approach, budget, etc., but we always followed our consistent north star. to nail creativity with sustainable means.

During this process, we have also encountered happy accidents. Our on-camera wind gags were much easier to control in the studio than they would have been on location. We love when this happens!

LBB> Sustainable production is a big topic right now. What can other brands and companies do to film in a more environmentally friendly way? Does the industry need to do more proactively, in your opinion?

Tasha > Absolutely. The industry should do more and can do more. All it takes is a suggestion. Not all customers will bite, but many will. If you can’t get a snack based on environmental concerns alone, you can also lean on marketing it to gen z, who care deeply about the well-being of the planet and generate more than $140 billion.

The demand for greater durability in business models is not going away. Major global companies like Apple and Microsoft have announced plans to be carbon neutral or carbon negative by 2030. These are not distant dreams. The is real demand from the public. Brands can’t afford to neglect sustainability.

My advice is to focus your attention where you can have the greatest impact. It’s not just about removing the water bottles and having compost on the set. It makes a small dent, but transport and energy are the most important factors. It’s not always the easiest path, but the end result is incredibly rewarding and, in our case, showed the client what a valuable strategic partner we are.

LBB> Is there anything you would like to add?

Tasha > There’s no reason to be intimidated. Bite what you can chew and push yourself to tackle a little more with each project. If you’re not sure where to start or how to start the conversation with customers or supplier partners, there are plenty of sustainability consultants out there, including us right here at Makers.

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