Sustainability advertising is communications geared towards promoting social, economic and environmental benefits of products, services or actions through paid advertising in the consumer market.


Conventional advertising is part of the promotion of products and services, which is one of the 4Ps represented in the marketing mix (Product, Promotion, Price, Place). [1] The sustainability marketing mix instead, includes the 4C’s (Customer Communication Solution, Customer Convenience, Convenience) and makes sustainability advertising a part of the sustainability communication concept. [2]

Sustainability advertising is used to advertise to sustainable products, services and actions. It is not only focused on environmental issues and the product or service itself, but includes communication about the entire life cycle of the product. It furthermore informs about the sustainability of the production company and communicates desirable lifestyles changes to consumers. [3] Advertising in general is a one-way communication through mass media [4] and is used to create name recognition, brand knowledge and some brand preference. [5] However, only sustainability advertising is contributing to the triple bottom line : economic development, environmental protection and social responsibility. [6]


Whenever advertisement campaign is developed and launched a marketing strategy for a sustainable product or service, it must be aligned to the objectives defined by the company in the context of sustainability. Some of the common objectives of marketing communications are: generation of awareness, informing consumers, reminding consumers, persuading consumers, reassuring consumers, motivating and rewarding consumers and connecting with them. [4] These are the basis for more specific objectives of sustainability advertising with the emphasis on environmental and social aspects. The United Nations Environmental Program ( UNEP ) has developed documents that give insights about the objectives of sustainability advertising. They include: [7]

  1. „Ensuring truth in advertising – the advertising codes provided and supported by the advertising industry and other mechanisms to ensure that claims can be substantiated, to prevent consumers from being misled“. This invention is related to the subject of informing consumers and reassuring them when they are misleading critics or arguments against a particular product, service or implemented action.
  2. „Ensuring ethical behavior from advertisers, which is legal, decent, honest and truthful“. Should not include attempts of greenwashing and reference to false social responsibility claims.
  3. „Ensuring that all sectors of society, including women, minorities, the elderly and children are sensitively portrayed.“ This „is“ associated with the challenge of sustainability advertising and „connecting“ with different audiences through a mass media message.
  4. „How advertising agencies, and the advertisers themselves, operate. „This area refers to the coherence needed whenever a message is delivered to the world.“ in advertising is set. The advertising message and the behavior of the company should be made to create trust and credibility.


The concept of a mixed-media concept was finally developed during the economic miracle right after World War II and included the 4P’s model, introduced around 1960. [8] This model, in which the promotion of products . role, was helpful for Many in Many markets „industries [9] HOWEVER, the market conditions changed: con-sumers est devenu more aware of the social and ecological implications of Their purchases Single and at the Sami time inherent attributes like efficiency and cost effectiveness, health and safety, symbolism and status needed to be highlighted by companies in the market. [10]The companies have been adapting to the changes and now move towards „relationship marketing focused more on communicating with the consumer“ [11] rather than just promoting the product. They use advertising, along with other activities and resources, [12] as a tool to inform the consumers and stakeholders on the sustainability solutions and the company as a whole. [13]

„The relationship between marketing and the environment has been examined since the early 1970s“. [14] First, the idea of ​​ecological marketing was developed and developed in the „depletion of energy and non-energy natural resources and the pollution created by product of production and consumption.“ [15] „The first attempt steps of Noninvasive industry and first uses of nature in advertising arose “ [16] and were accompanied by an intensive mediatization of environmental issues in the 1980s. For example: the discovery of’hole in the ozone layer ‚in 1985 and Chernobyl in 1986. [16] By this time, green marketing and environmental marketingconcepts were built up and elements from the product life cycle assessment (associated with environmental marketing) and the destruction of ecosystems and poverty in developing countries [15] were considered in the advertising campaigns.

Lately, the concept of sustainable advertising has been defined in this article. It has encountered criticisms, and limitations, but also challenges that are guiding the companies, governments and organizations to the implementation of more holistic and sustainable practices in the process of providing products and services worldwide.

Carrier Information

Carrier marketing messages are mainly mainstream media like national television, national radio and print. Those media are in favor of sustainability promotion, because they are central players in building consumers culture. [17]Within radio, print or television campaigns, sustainability, social and environmental sustainability. [18] Strategic advertising messages are then connected with corporate communication leading towards the development of a responsible and civic image of the company. However, mainstream media has constrains the cause of limitations to the application of persuasive, motivational or educational communication. [19] Most sustainability advertising campaigns, therefore, combines different types of mainstream media to different levels of information.


Sustainability advertising on the Radio refers to audio. High imagery ads that show up in the minds of listeners. [20] The right choice of words for the campaign and the possibility to activate imagination of the consumer and the desire for the product is the challenge for radio advertising.


Print media are paper based media like magazines, newspaper, books, flyers or posters. Therefore, print advertising generally includes a higher resource use of paper, compared to digital radio and television campaigns. The choice of the right print is important to the definition of sustainable products and services. Advertisements in the United States and in the United States of America, United States, United States, United States, United States, United States, United States, United States, United States, United States, United States Posters on the other hand are often used for social marketing campaigns. [21]


Television is the dominant type of media in the developed countries [22] and combines audio and visual possibilities of sustainability advertising. Its effectiveness results from ‚learning without involvement‘ which means that the consumer takes the information at first. [23] Consequentially, television is an essential media for sustainability advertising.

Target group

The target group for sustainability is „responsible consumers“. They are aware of sustainable development issues or in the niche of activists and follow sustainability principles. These consumers have a strong commitment to a more responsible lifestyle and are serious in their sustainable intentions and behavior. They are interested in information about products or services, and they have an independent attitude towards mass media and advertising. Responsible consumers can be seen as ‚optimistic realists‘ encouraging society to continue development in a sustainable way. They are critical to their own behavior regarding the environmental impact of the products they consume.[24] They consume efficiently, see economic growth decoupled from environmental degradation and focus on ‚common but differentiated responsibility‘ to improve the quality of life. [25] Responsible consumers demand a higher value from their purchases of social responsibility, environmental impacdations. [26] They show an increasing awareness on social and environmental issues and offers in domestic and export markets. [26] Focusing on the responsible consumer as an overall target group, further division into the following target subgroups can be made: [27]

  • LOHAS – who are highly concerned with their health, and with a high level of responsibility for environmental and social issues.
  • Status addicts – who are really concerned about sustainability.
  • Transition towns community members – focus on local consumption and sustainability.
  • Concerned parents – who wants the best and the healthiest products for their children.
  • Currently constrained – who would like to be more sustainable, but do not think there is much they can do in their current circumstances.


Range of coverage . Speed ​​and scale is one of the most significant advantages of sustainability advertising. It is capable of reaching a wide range of persuasive and informative messages [4] and is considered to be one of the most powerful sources of symbolic meaning in modern society. [28] Sustainability advertising campaigns motivate pro-environmental attitudes . [29] Being one of the tools of sustainability communication strategy, advertising campaigns focus on the intrinsic motivations of the consumers, their attitudes and beliefs as one of the determinants of sustainability.

Sustainability advertising represents the primary communication tool to which the major part of the group is exposed on the market. It serves as a source of initial information for consumers, concerning the social and environmental status of product and company. On the basis of the primary impression the consumer makes the decision to the product and the company behind the reservation. Therefore, sustainability advertising „helps to inform consumers and facilitates consumer choice“. [30]

As marketing communication tool sustainability advertising can be used as an instrument to modify the impact of human activities on the planet . There are three factors, which contribute to the total human impact: population, affluence and technology. [4] Sustainability advertising addresses affluence by the promotion of the environmental and social footprint of the society on the planet. Originally advertising was one of the factors that created consumption culture, thus playing an important role in shaping consumer preferences and the social and environmental impact they produce. Sustainability, however, is responsible for the changes in the society, from materialistic to more sustainable. [31]

A variety of marketing communication tools offers producers a wide range of opportunities to build relationships with a consumer. Due to the format restrictions sustainability advertising is often not comprehensive. [32] Nevertheless, it serves as a key source of information (eg, company’s web page). This link enables further development of the communication process between the company and the consumer. So, under the conditions of a mutually beneficial relationship between the two.

Disadvantages, limitations, and challenges

Promoting sustainable solutions through Sustainability Advertising Provides corporations with big competitive advantages [33] and Allows Them to educate and inform as well as Consumers Stimulate Their emotions Reviews towards the product. Nevertheless, there are some limitations:

General advertising as well as sustainability Unidirectional sending messages to your entire audience at one. [4] At the same time, the ability to connect with the single consumer is more likely This advertisement is the subject of the advertisement. To avoid the typical one-way communication and to provide consumers and corporations with the chance to give and receive feedback, advertising can be used in combination with other key media. Interactive advertising then enables the company to build strong customer-relationships despite the lack of personalized messages.[34]

A special challenge for Sustainability Advertising is the complexity of the messages that have to be communicated. Myopia`s exclusive focus on the „green“ aspects of the product – the advertising message should not only include the social and environmental attributes of a product, but also [35] Mention influencing the consumers‘ buying decision. [36] [37]However, communicating meaningful about the complex interplay of social, environmental, economic, technical and consumer benefits of a product of a sustainable perspective using a 30-second radio or television slot. [32] To make information available to consumers in the form of information and to [37] can be helpful.

A challenge related to the complexity of messages is the risk of information overload . It results from the corporations‘ effort to gain more credibility and trust by providing search quality assurance in the form of text and fact oriented advertising. However, the information overload of today’s consumers is mainly concerned with the perception of advertising. [38] Enhancing the emotional appeal of Sustainability Advertising can create an emotional connection with consumers and their involvement with the product. [39] One of the most common approaches is the so-called: „Ecotainment“ [40] – the creation of consumers‘ involvement by a celebrity on the advertisement.[41]

A strong threat to the credibility of Sustainability Advertising can be seen in corporate “ greenwashing „, a form of disinformation from organizations seeking to repair public reputations and further shape public images. [42] It allows firms to manipulate an image of environmental, social, and cultural responsiveness [43]by communicating false or misleading sustainability claims. This common practice leads to the overall credibility of corporate sustainability claims and leads to the mistrust of consumers. This general inconsistency between a company and its messages may be of a general interest in the future. [44]

Therefore, the most important future challenge refers to firms as well as advertising agencies is certainly a better understanding of the benefits of corporate social-ecological responsibility in communications . [45] Especially advertising agencies often lack the technical expertise to ensure that the communications are more credible and fail to ensure that they are aligned with a client’s corporate practices and external communications. [46]This leads to success in marketing opportunities and the creation of positive brand value. To overcome these barriers, the promotion of sustainability becomes part of the realms of sustainable advertising. [47]

See also

  • Sustainable Development portal
  • Carrying capacity
  • Ecological economics
  • Ecologically sustainable development
  • Green building
  • greenwashing
  • Limits to growth
  • List of sustainability topics
  • Sustainable living
  • Sustainable yield
  • Zero carbon city


  1. Jump up^ UNEP; WFA; EACA 2002, p. 11.Belz; Peattie 2009, p. 15.
  2. Jump up^ Belz; Peattie 2009, p. 33.
  3. Jump up^ UNEP; WFA; EACA 2002, p. 9 f. ; Belz; Peattie 2009, p. 181 f
  4. ^ Jump up to:e Belz; Peattie 2009, p. 181.
  5. Jump up^ Belz; Peattie 2009, p. 169.
  6. Jump up^ UNEP; WFA; EACA 2002, p. 9 f.
  7. Jump up^ UNEP; WFA; EACA 2002, p. 10.
  8. Jump up^ McCarthy 1960.
  9. Jump up^ Gronroos 1999. p. 327
  10. Jump up^ Belz; Peattie 2009, p. 166.
  11. Jump up^ Belz; Peattie 2009, p.180.
  12. Jump up^ Gronroos 1994, p. 4.
  13. Jump up^ Belz; Peattie 2009, p. 180.
  14. Jump up^ Kilbourne 2004, p. 187.
  15. ^ Jump up to:a Belz b ; Peattie 2009, p. 28.
  16. ^ Jump up to:b UNEP 2007, p. 21.
  17. Jump up^ Michaelis 2001, in: Kolandai-Matchett 2009, p. 114.
  18. Jump up^ Kolandai-Matchett 2009, p. 115.
  19. Jump up^ Sandman 1974, pp. 207-247; Dennis 1991, pp. 55-64; Shanahan 1996, pp. 176-193 in: Kolandai-Matchett 2009, p.114.
  20. Jump up^ Bolls; Muehling 2007.
  21. Jump up^ Earthprint publishing 2007.
  22. Jump up^ Office for Official Publications of the European Communities (Data 1980/2002).
  23. Jump up^ Krugman, HE (1965).
  24. Jump up^ Earthprint publishing 2007, p. 49.
  25. Jump up^ Bentley (2004), p, 9; A P; WFA; EACA 2002, p. 5.
  26. ^ Jump up to:b UNEP; WFA; EACA 2002, p. 25.
  27. Jump up^ Belz; Peattie 2009, chapter 4.
  28. Jump up^ Jackson 2005, p. 74.
  29. Jump up^ Jackson 2005, p. 89.
  30. Jump up^ UNEP; WFA; EACA 2002, p. 9.
  31. Jump up^ UNEP; WFA; EACA 2002, p. 56.
  32. ^ Jump up to:a Belz b ; Peattie 2009, p. 182.
  33. Jump up^ Lovell (2004), p.11.
  34. Jump up^ Pavlou 2000, p. 63.
  35. Jump up^ Inherent consumer benefits: cost-effectiveness, health & safety, convenience, status symbol, cf. Belz; Peattie 2009, pp. 164-167.
  36. Jump up^ Main buying criteria: functionality, performance, design, durability, taste, freshness, cf. Belz; Peattie 2009, pp. 164-167.
  37. ^ Jump up to:b Schrader 2005, p.62.
  38. Jump up^ Schrader 2005, p. 62.
  39. Jump up^ Schrader 2005, p. 68.
  40. Jump up^ Lichtl, M. (1999), in: Schrader 2005, p.68.
  41. Jump up^ Schrader 2005, p. 69.
  42. Jump up^ Beder, S. (1997), in: Laufer, WS (2003), p.253.
  43. Jump up^ Beder, S. (2000), in: Munshi; Kurian (2005), p. 513.
  44. Jump up^ Belz; Peattie 2009, p. 189.
  45. Jump up^ UNEP; WFA; EACA 2002, p. 70.
  46. Jump up^ Lovell (2004), p. 11.
  47. Jump up^ Longhust (2003).


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