Education is the Foundation: Amy Bryson, David Caygill & Amy Eagles, Iris

кем Carol Mason , AdForum (NYC)

Iris Worldwide
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London, United Kingdom
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Amy Bryson
Managing Partner & CMO Iris Worldwide, London

Amy Eagles
Head of Production Iris

David Caygill
Global Executive Director, Future Strategy Iris

As expectations from consumers rise, companies must find a way to make sustainability a priority. We spoke with Amy Bryson, CMO, Amy Eagles, Head of Production, and David Caygill, Executive Director, Future Strategy at Iris about the opportunities to educate brands and help them find their voice in sustainable communications.

Can you tell us about what green initiatives your agency currently has in place?

Since holding a Climate Summit a few years ago and being collectively knocked sideways by a talk from BBC’s Sustainability Advisor, Jeremy Mathieu, we’ve been on a mission to take climate action. We started with ‘Create and Strike’ an idea to harness the creativity of the industry to make a bold statement at the climate strikes in September 2019. 

In the heat of the pandemic, we created The Great Reset for the Purpose Disruptors, to raise awareness of the positive impact of lockdown behaviour. 

Later that year, in partnership with our friends at Elvis we developed Ecoffectiveness – the new measure for marketing effectiveness that include the carbon emissions of our campaigns alongside traditional metrics. 

And in 2021, we set ourselves the goal of being Net Zero by 2025. We partnered with Green Element to establish our current footprint and a roadmap of how to get there. In the process we identified our biggest contributor, global travel, so we issued a new travel policy and encouraged clients to join us in travelling less by offering a carbon kickback… for any time we saved by travelling less, we would give them that time for free! Unsurprisingly several global clients signed up pretty quickly.

Internally, our Climate Council keeps us on track in terms of our own operations and we have a sustainability champion in each of our 14 offices who is responsible for the net zero target.

Amy Bryson, CMO, Iris London


How does your approach to each campaign keep sustainability in mind?

Sustainability is weaved throughout our whole process; from the moment a brief enters the building until it delivers.

As part of our Creative Development process, we put all work through our internal ‘Progress Panel’. The Progress Panel is a collective of individuals all with passion points ranging from sustainability, diversity, gender, religion etc.

The first stage that we’d review the work would be at script and concept stage, ahead of defining a production approach. The second stage the work would be reviewed is at treatment stage, where we would ensure a sustainable approach to making work is applied.

Our representatives on the sustainability front will review all scripts, concepts, and ideas through a ‘green lens’. Assessing whether we can make improvements on sustainable behaviours, helping to show green behaviours as the everyday norm e.g., vegetable patches, recycling bins, composting, smart metres, electric cars, solar panels etc.

When working with 3rd parties, our Green Policy is sent to them prior to engagement.

The policy outlines the following:

Expectations as part of Treatments and Pre-Productions

  • Digital paperwork only
  • Public transport / eco-friendly travel to F2F meetings
  • Sustainable food, and recycling of waste management for any F2F meetings

Expectations on shoot

  • Green runner – a dedicated runner on set to ensure the production is as green as it can be.
  • Waste Management
  • Water Coolers & re-usable bottles
  • Eco Caterers, seasonal food, vegetarian first
  • Sustainable protective flooring (locomats)
  • Sustainable art department and wardrobe
  • Sustainable studios – if studio based
  • LED lighting
  • Solar powered generators


  • Zero or sustainable travel for meetings.
  • Domestic shoots as priority
  • If flying abroad, taking most eco-friendly approach with combination of remote viewing.
  • Local crew with limited travel
  • Taxis: Green Tomato, Adi Lee Eco or Ecoigo

Carbon offsetting 

Amy Eagles, Head of Production, Iris


In what ways are you helping your clients navigate sustainability communications?

We’re doing everything we can to use our client influence, working with several brands on their sustainability strategies and we’re in the final stages for a major project for COP26 in Glasgow.  

Amy Bryson, CMO, Iris London


Transparency regarding a brand’s eco footprint is important, how can you avoid being perceived as purely greenwashing?

It can be hard for brands to find their voice in sustainability, there is a lot of fear in speaking out and becoming a target.  As a result, brands can be tempted to stay quiet, a phenomenon known as the ‘green hush’ the opposite of ‘green washing’.  We also find sub brands or local markets in the scenario where a parent or group brand has set a big ambitious target for carbon reduction or waste, but there is little tangibility in how it is activated for a brand in a market amongst their target consumers.  In both these situations brands can get left behind as more activist competitors start taking a stand on a key sustainability issue.

In these situations, we deploy our Future Strategy team – a group of sustainability and innovation specialists at Iris – to go deep into the brands sustainability credentials and ambition, to work out what they can credibly talk about and what motivates their consumers.

David Caygill, Executive Director, Future Strategy


How do you see the advertising industry improving communications around sustainability in the future to develop a more streamlined green approach to campaigns?

As expectations from consumers, regulations from governments and pressure from investors continue to rise, we’ll see sustainability climb up the client priority list.  With that the agency’s craft will improve, punishing green washing will be as routine as it is with other false product claims or overt discrimination as it is today. This means the industry will have to mature its approach to sustainability, which will mean adding the simple things like guidelines, checklists and the governance that keeps false communications from getting out the door.  

However, the big opportunity for both the industry and the planet lays in education.  Research shows us that when people come to understand more about the actions that drive impact on the environment, they feel more empowered in making positive changes.  So, if our industry’s professionals invest in education on climate change and sustainability and that knowledge comes through in the work we make, the brands we support and the products we launch, then the impact of the marketing and advertising on the future of the planet will no doubt be improved.

David Caygill, Executive Director, Future Strategy