Money & Business

Environmental Media Group Gives Super Bowl Ads Points for Sustainability

By / Feb 4, 2021 (bubaone/DigitalVision Vectors)

After success certifying TV shows and movies for sustainability, the Environmental Media Association finally tackled commercials for one of the small screen’s biggest events: the Super Bowl. The organization awarded its Green Seal Gold certification to all six Anheuser-Busch ads.

Since 2003, the Environmental Media Association has been trying to ensure that movies and TV shows were both environmentally safe and sustainable. As part of its work, EMA helped productions cut waste, reduce their carbon footprints, and curb energy use—awarding many its Green Seal certification. Now, EMA has finally brought that sustainability to small-screen advertising.

“We are the global standard for green production for television and film,” said Debbie Levin, EMA’s CEO. “We’ve tried to get into advertising and commercials for years, and we couldn’t get any traction with it.”

But that changed last year when Anheuser-Busch reached out to the group, saying it wanted to undergo the certification process for all six of its Super Bowl ads. “It has been a really interesting experience to be able to work with Anheuser-Busch, which has such a great corporate mission of sustainability,” Levin said.

The EMA Green Seal certification has a litany of requirements, looking at all aspects of environmental health and sustainability. “It’s things like what kind of electrical power are you using, what kind of generators are you using, what kind of trailers, what kind of transportation,” Levin said. “How are you disposing of waste? Are you composting? Lighting is a big deal. Are you pulling from a grid that is in existence? Or are you creating your own?”

While EMA was glad to finally be used for advertising, it did have to update some components of the certification due to the short nature of commercials. “The other [version] was more for TV series and feature films,” Levin said. “If you’re doing a commercial, you shoot in one to four days. It’s very different if you’re on a set ongoing for a series or a month to six months of a movie shoot. Now we have a version that is specifically ad relevant.”

The pandemic also affected the greenness of the filming. For example, sets usually have buffets to reduce packaging waste, and unused food is donated. Neither was possible because of COVID-19 safety concerns.

However, there were some positives. “Savings were remarkable because things were being done virtually,” Levin said. “Between transportation and waste, their carbon footprint was so much smaller. It really, really educated all of us as to what we could do moving forward that didn’t have any effect on the finished product.”

Anheuser-Busch achieved the Gold certification for its six Super Bowl ads. [Preview one here]. Levin is incredibly excited knowing that EMA helped create sustainable ads for one of biggest ad-viewing days of the year.

“Everybody looks for the Super Bowl ads,” she said. “It’s a beautiful way to showcase and use that as an example of being able to shoot a commercial sustainably. There is no reason not to think about sustainability when you’re shooting anything.”

Rasheeda Childress

Rasheeda Childress is an associate editor at Associations Now. She covers money and business. Email her with story ideas or news tips. More »

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