We’re closing for the climate strike tomorrow because our industry is partly to blame

The Republic of Everyone and The Bravery are closing tomorrow to join the climate strike. It will impact profits, yes, but more importantly, it will signal that our industry cares about the planet despite selling things that make it worse. Quite simply, it's the right thing to do, explain Ben Peacock, Claire Maloney and Scott Matyus-Flynn.

Tomorrow, our agencies will be closing for the day to allow our teams to join the climate strike. When we made the decision to do this, we didn’t think about it too much. Since then, we’ve been surprised about a lot of the conversation it’s created. So, let us explain.

It was a no-brainer for us. We help brands find their purpose; we need to do so too. Our clients are also closing for the day: Ben & Jerry’s, Unilever, and Patagonia. Yet, when our people asked if they were free to join the march, they did so rather gingerly. We were taken aback they thought they’d even have to ask.

We asked around: was this odd? Had our friends at other companies asked the same of their employers? What was the response?

We were struck by how many were scared to ask their companies if they could join the strike or even bring the strike up as a topic of conversation – it could rock the boat, their bosses may look upon them unfavourably, or it could go against the culture of working efficiently for profits, and a day out of the office impacts the bottom line.

But is this what business is really about? One group of people working tirelessly to enrich another? Profit before all else?

It doesn’t have to be that way. Business can be a force for good, which is exactly what employees want their companies to be (check out Edelman’s 2019 Trust Barometer for proof).

So if your employees believe that climate change must be acted upon, it shouldn’t be your directors or managers making the decision whether to attend the strike – it should be everyone in the company, collectively.

Our team are smart people. They know the work will still need to get done, and that means doing it around the climate strikes. If they’re happy with that, so are we.

Pull the boots on, let’s march.

Republic of Everyone is closing tomorrow, as is its sister agency The Bravery

Closing tomorrow to attend the strike goes to the heart of what business is all about. But it also goes to the heart of what our industry is all about.

The communications industry is a creative one. We innovate and we create. Whether as strategists, creatives or the client’s best friend, our goal is to find new answers to ever-repeating problems – to use creativity to improve things. Yet, too often, our creativity is destructive, because as an industry we are also – like it or not – salespeople. And what we help to sell is not always in the best interests of people or the planet.

Almost everyone in Australia has enough stuff, yet we still help sell more. And the biggest, most coveted clients often sell the least necessary things. From fast food to fast cars, the industry uses creativity to sell, with little concern for the impact of what we’re selling.

There are exceptions the the rule. When an agency works on charity projects and creates positive change, you can be sure the case study videos will be full of that – the results of our creativity. Yet when it’s to sell more junk food to an overweight generation, we tend to somewhat shy away from what we have created.

So we want to do good. We want to be good. We want our creativity to be positive and to be better. If this is what we want, we need to stand up for it, and that means showing up to the events that really matter, like tomorrow’s strike.

But, most of all, we’re doing it because it’s the right thing to do. We believe in it.

The world has known about climate change for over 100 years and we’ve known about its urgency for well over a decade.

We know it will effect our children, possibly to the point of extinction.

We know, yet we do almost nothing. That’s got to change and that’s got to change now. Our generations have failed to move the needle and now we have new hope from the generation it will effect the most. Their approach is as honest and creative a solution to a challenge we have seen in a long time. It deserves the support of an industry that purports to be about just that.

That’s why, tomorrow, we’re downing tools, showing up and helping tell the world that doing nothing is no longer an option.

We encourage you to do the same.

Ben Peacock is the founder of The Republic of Everyone. Claire Maloney is co-founder and director of The Bravery. Scott Matyus-Flynn is partner at The Republic of Everyone.


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