Diageo introduces sustainability training for marketers to drive forward environmental agenda

21 Jun 2022 | Press release

Cannes, 21 June 2022: Today at Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, Diageo launched Brand Activism: a capability shift that enables marketers to embed sustainability into their culture and brands.

Developed with Diageo’s Global Sustainability team, Brand Activism builds marketers understanding of sustainability, empowers them with the knowledge of how to apply sustainability principles in their roles and inspires them to take action to lead the change agenda alongside their company and for consumers. By the end of June, all 1,200 individuals across Diageo’s Marketing and Innovation teams will have completed the training and soon agencies Diageo works with will be completing the training.

The Brand Activism framework was presented to a packed-out audience at The Forum Stage at Cannes Festival of Creativity by Jennifer English, Baileys Global Brand Director, and Carol Montgomery, Head of Society, Guinness. The session covered the framework and the tools used to help those in the audience play the activist role within their brand and organisation. Brand Activism has strategic tools to integrate marketing into the wider sustainability work along with sharing tools on how and where sustainability can be brought into everyday thinking.

Jennifer English and Carol Montgomery presenting on Brand Activism

Marketers have a unique role to not only help make sustainability digestible for consumers and shape their behaviour, but to also feed sustainability consumer insights back into the company. The training encourages Diageo’s marketers to bring this back and look at their supply chain holistically for more sustainable alternatives, helping consumers bridge the say-do gap and to make a tangible benefit to the planet.

Jennifer English, Global Brand Director for Baileys, said: “Sustainability is a complex and fast changing topic, and one that can create real opportunity, but also challenge for our brands. Greenwashing and regulations are on the rise, and we want to empower our marketers to talk about our sustainability actions accurately and fairly whilst also creating big change for our consumers and planet. The Brand Activism tools and frameworks help us to do this whilst driving positive impact for the planet.”

All the 200 plus brands across Diageo are aligned to, and have an important role to play in, the company’s sustainability action plan Society 2030: Spirit of Progress. Headline targets include achieving net zero in direct operations by 2030, ensuring 100% of packaging is widely recyclable and on average reducing water usage by 30% across all the drinks produced.

Carol Montgomery, Head of Society for Guinness, added: “As a marketing industry, we have real opportunity to make a tangible impact on our corporate sustainability. Whilst we don’t have all the answers on sustainability in Diageo, it’s only by sharing our learnings that as a marketing industry we will be able to make a lasting change, together.”

In the last six months, Diageo’s brand-led sustainability actions have included Ireland’s first Sustainability Farming Academy from Baileys, one of Ireland’s most ambitious regenerative agriculture pilots from Guinness, and the phased removal of cardboard gift boxes from premium Scotch brands including Johnnie Walker Black Label, Buchanan’s Blended Scotch Whisky and Bell’s Original Blended Scotch Whisky.