Publicis Groupe’s climate targets have been validated by SBTi (Science Based Targets Initiative) and outline a trajectory to reduce carbon emissions 50% by 2030 and further to 90% by 2040. As this ambition aligns with the Paris Agreement, sustainability has been on top of both Publicis’ and Zenith’s agendas for the past several years. Since 90% of a company’s carbon footprint comes from the supply chain, we can play a vital role in reducing our clients carbon footprints by innovating our approach to media and aligning with the increasing importance of responsible media priorities.

In media, we are constantly looking for ways to translate existing trends and consumer-driven initiatives into both a client’s brand positioning and in the way we optimise and improve our advertising content. Given the wide-reaching global topic of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, media sustainability has become a decision-making pillar for the work that we deliver for our clients. According to the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA), most of the world’s biggest brands already have a responsible marketing framework in place but are seeing sustainability and responsible media priorities increase in importance. As a result of increased requests from brands, media agencies are establishing advertising experts as ambassadors for the sustainable use of ad resources, processes, and media implementation.

Media Agency Support

Media agencies enhance sustainability through CO2 measurement tools and calculators. In 2021, Publicis Groupe introduced the ALICE carbon calculator, which measures emissions per channel, promoting daily or post-campaign efficiency. Publicis Lighthouse, in partnership with Scope3, offers granular CO2 measurement at a placement level.

Media Optimisation through Recycling & Upcycling

Beyond measurement, media waste reduction involves recycling and upcycling principles. Recycling involves reusing or repurposing existing content, while Upcycling transforms materials into higher value or environmentally beneficial forms. These principles guide sustainable and resource-efficient media campaigns and include the following:


  • Recycling: Reuses, repurposes, or adapts existing content for new campaigns.
  • Upcycling: Creatively transforms content into new forms (i.e. innovative redesigns, unique content mashups).

Value creation:

  • Recycling: Produces content with a similar type and value to the original materials.
  • Upcycling: Increases the value of original materials by creating content through re-envisioning older sketches, drafts, and creatives with new ideas.

Environmental impact:

  • Recycling: Reduces waste, conserves resources, and minimises new content production.
  • Upcycling: Encourages innovative solutions using materials in their existing form.

Application and creative possibilities:

  • Recycling: Applies to various formats (commercials, graphics, etc), primarily reusing existing content in new context.
  • Upcycling: Offers a broader range of creative possibilities, encouraging unique transformations of existing materials (i.e. artistic redesigns, content merges or leveraging user-generated content in new ways).

Media Recycling Example  

The original “Share a Coke” campaign launched in Australia in 2011, where Coca-Cola replaced its iconic logo on the bottles with popular first names, encouraging people to find and share a Coke with their friends and family members.

The brand extended it across diverse channels by repurposing the original concept of personalisation and sharing. This adaption effectively engaged a global audience, showcasing sustainability through reuse.

Media Upcycling Example

IKEA’s “Second-Hand” campaign utilised existing advertising materials and user-generated content to encourage customers to buy and sell its used furniture on their website and in stores. By combining achieved ads with customer-shared images, IKEA highlighted the durability of its products and created an eco-friendly narrative, resonating with environmentally conscious consumers.


Both recycling and upcycling principles can contribute to more sustainable and resource-efficient media advertising. By incorporating these principles into media advertising strategies, brands can reduce their environmental impact, save resources, and appeal to eco-conscious consumers.

For brands that want to delve into this space, the first point of action is to check in with your sustainability leads and media agencies on existing initiatives for media upcycling/repurposing. Are there any campaigns your brand is leveraging in one market that can work in another? Does the content team have existing sketches or ideas for improving pre-existing creatives? Which media vendors offer optimised solutions for serving your brand’s content?

Publicis tools (ALICE, Lighthouse) can provide a measurement solution for recycle and upcycle initiatives through CO2 media waste calculators. This can formalise and analyse positive contributions towards brand’s sustainability workstreams and pledges.

Written by Vlad Novikov, Ad Tech Director at Zenith Global.

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