Ad Net Zero sets its US agenda, with education and recruitment as key priorities


The organization announced its priorities alongside the 4A’s, ANA and IAB at a breakfast event in New York City on Tuesday.

Osborn was a longtime Omnicom executive.

Ad Net Zero, the industry coalition dedicated to reducing the ad industry’s carbon footprint and promoting sustainable business, has set an agenda focused on education, training and recruitment as it sets its sights on U.S. expansion.

The group, launched in the U.K. in Nov. 2020 by the Advertising Association, put down roots in the U.S. in October, when it brought on longtime Omnicom executive John Osborn as its U.S.A. Director. 

At an event in New York City on Tuesday, February 7, industry trade groups the 4A’s, the ANA and the IAB announced the official launch of Ad Net Zero’s USA Chapter, with a commitment from more than 50 organizations – representing 40% of the world’s ad spend – to take for “immediate, collective industry action” to decarbonize the industry.

Members include Ad Net Zero major brands, holding companies and media platforms, such as Unilever, Dentsu and Google. New U.S. members inducted at the event included Assembly, Adlook, Audacy, Cedara, Duration Media, Good-Loop, MediaMath, MobileFuse, Vox Media, Volta, Sharethrough, Viant OpenX, Scope3, Quantcast and Seen This. 

The U.S.A. chapter will focus first on broad education and training programs for industry constituents. The group plans to adapt its Ad Net Zero online training course specifically for the U.S. market, which focuses on helping employees understand the actions they can take to be more sustainable. 

The organization also plans to establish working groups in areas including production and media based on its five-point action plan, which includes steps such as assessing the carbon footprint of current business operations down to reducing emissions across a variety of business areas and influencing industry wide change.

In addition, the U.S.A. chapter will be focused on recruiting more members. 

“Collaboration is the name of the game,” John Osborn, U.S.A. director of Ad Net Zero, told Campaign US in an interview after the event. “What we have found is that by getting the right minds around the table the best ideas quickly percolate to the top. That’s not to say there won't be healthy discussion. That’s not to say, in some instances, there won’t be healthy debate. But the fact of the matter is, we’re all united by the same mission here.”

Ad Net Zero establishes its U.S. action plan as sustainability becomes a growing focus area for the industry. Many companies kicked off the year by establishing partnerships with Scope3, a solution that measures the carbon output of ad campaigns. 

But experts agree that the market is in the early stages of its sustainability journey, and that aligning on a common set of measurements, definitions and benchmarks will be critical. 

“We should not be precious about sustainability,” Marla Kaplowitz, CEO of the 4A’s, told Campaign US. “Everyone wants to be the solution, and that’s wonderful…it’s just not going to work if we start from the bottom up; we have to align top down on where we’re trying to go.”

As Ad Net Zero officially launches in the U.S., industry activist group Clean Creatives kicked off a campaign on Tuesday in which they have taken over the @adnetzero handle on Twitter, Instagram and TikTok, which is currently not registered by the organization. The group will post content on the handles “to ask for evidence of a true plan to transition to net zero that includes member agencies ending promotion of Big Oil,” according to a press release. 

The organization calls out Ad Net Zero members for working with fossil fuel clients. 

“We’re not trying to impersonate Ad Net Zero; we just think that Ad Net Zero is impersonating a real climate plan,” Duncan Meisel, Director, Clean Creatives, said in a statement. “You cannot effectively respond to the climate emergency while working with the people responsible for it.”

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