Major firms lack wide-reaching responsible marketing frameworks

Most of the world’s biggest companies have responsible marketing frameworks in place and recognise their growing importance but few have policies which cover all key areas, according to research by the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA).

The most covered areas are marketing and children (83%) and influencer marketing (75%). The least covered area is environmental sustainability (65%).

The frameworks offer clear guidance on how to ensure that marketing is aligned with fast-evolving consumer and societal expectations. For example, 68% of brands address greenwashing in their marketing codes, 75% cover diversity and inclusion and 79% mandate GDPR-like rules, even where it is not the law.

Eighty-eight per cent of companies have a framework or set of policies in place and 87% agree they are critical to their longer-term licence to operate. However, they rarely cover all of the key areas identified by the WFA. 

Key areas of priority in extending coverage in the next 12months include environmental sustainability (69%), diversity, equity and inclusion (61%), and responsible media and privacy and data ethics (both 58%).

The research, conducted with global CMOs (chief marketing officers) and senior global marketing, media and policy executives from companies representing $95 billion (£75.5 billion) in spend, also found that 50% of companies have ambitions to drive more sustainable consumer behaviours and half work with criteria relating to scope 3 emissions. However, these are likely to represent the “best in class” said WFA CEO Stephan Loerke.

The WFA is currently working with CMOs and senior policy professionals on developing a responsible marketing framework template covering all six key areas.

Recent research by the WFA also showed that marketing professionals feel they need to be braver and clearer in their sustainability communications to avoid greenwashing.

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