Dialogue Q3 2019

Page 66


Radical marketing Marketing must help business become a force for good. John Davis makes a call to action

“The world is changing. It just isn’t changing fast enough,” says Dr Katharine Hayhoe of Texas Tech University. There is no question that our leaders and companies must change if they’re to survive in an increasingly chaotic world. But Dr Hayhoe’s comment is not a description of the business world. She is a climate scientist. According to a 2018 report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the current pace of greenhouse gas emissions means that the Earth’s temperature will reach a critical threshold of 1.5oC (or 2.7oF) as soon as 2030. What happens then? We are likely to see the loss of key ecosystems, and the acceleration of irreversible damage to the natural world. Why, you might ask, does this matter for marketing? Because the monumental change under way in the climate will directly impact people everywhere. A business-as-usual mindset is fraught with risk, because each individual company assumes its own impact is relatively minor. Yet the collective impact is huge, and we have 100 years of industrial data to prove it. Corporate decision-making focuses on minimizing exposure to risks associated with uncertain factors, compelling leaders to simultaneously protect investments and maximize measurable value creation. But with irrefutable evidence of devastating ecosystem destruction worldwide, continuing to use traditional marketing to sell the next product or service conveys a tone-deaf indifference to climate change. Thus, dramatic solutions from every business are pivotal and essential to our future. It is our collective responsibility to solve, because the absence of a fix is too catastrophic to contemplate. The world’s businesses have a vast global reach and are far more than just commercial actors: they are leading societal actors, and that means they have a responsibility to people everywhere to create solutions that significantly reduce their carbon footprint. Businesses must stop being just makers of goods, and redefine themselves as a force for good. The global business platform is enormous, as is its capacity to solve problems, to engage people, and to