Climate anxiety far higher among ad industry than general public

Key findings from new IPA data, carried out by Ipsos

Climate anxiety is far higher for those working in the ad industry than the general public, and perceptions about the ad industry’s impact on the climate crisis are far less positive for those working in the ad industry business versus the general public.

These are just some of the key findings from new IPA data, carried out by Ipsos, that will be debated at an IPA Advertising Week Europe "Advertising and the Climate Crisis" event at 3pm today.

The research was commissioned by the IPA Media Climate Action Group and carried out in April this year. In total, the survey received responses from 545 IPA advertising agency employees, 1067 adults (general public) aged 16-75 in the UK, plus an additional 475 young adults aged 16-24-years-old.

Key findings:

Ad agency employees who responded are more anxious and demoralised about climate change than the general public

Over half of those survey respondents from IPA agencies (53%) feel anxious about climate change, and 37% feel demoralised about climate change. These figures are far higher than for the general public, for whom 37% feel anxious and 14% feel demoralised.

Of the agency employees who responded, only a minority feel they have influence over environmental strategy

In response to being asked which areas they have influence on policy or ways of working in their company (out of six options), ‘Strategies to reduce adverse environmental and social impacts’ was selected by 25%, while ‘Distribution of work to team members’ and ‘Personal development and training of employees’ was selected by double this amount, and highest, at 51% each. In addition, only 30% felt they have influence over Mental health and wellbeing.

Advertising career appeals to half of young adults, higher than the general public

Fifty-three percent of young people would consider working in the advertising industry, according to the data, in comparison with 38% of the general public.

1 in 4 young adults have a positive view of the ad industry’s impact on climate change while almost half of ad agency employees have a negative view

Twenty-six per cent of young adults believe the ad industry has a positive impact on climate change and 17% of the same audience believe it has a negative impact. This is in comparison with 21% and 18% respectively for the general population. Perceptions among the ad agency respondents are, however, more negative with only 12% believing the ad industry has a positive impact on climate change and a considerable 48% believing it has a negative impact on climate change.

Agency employees have a comparatively more favourable view of their own companies' efforts to combat climate change than collective industry efforts

When asked ‘Is the [Advertising industry/your company] doing enough to address climate change?’ almost half of ad agency respondents (49%) said their company was doing too little, while 70% said the industry was doing too little.

A quarter of the agency employees who responded don't yet feel comfortable voicing concerns to colleagues about a client’s impact on the environment

While 55% of ad industry employees would feel comfortable voicing their concerns to colleagues about the clients they work with and their impact on climate change, 25% say they wouldn’t.

Says Pauline Robson, Chair of the IPA Media Climate Action Group and Managing Partner, Head of Sustainability, EssenceMediacom:

"By surveying the level of feeling about the climate crisis, we are seeking to provide insight and stimulus for key decision makers and agency leaders to formulate the right strategies and approaches to navigate the needs of current and future talent, clients, stakeholders and the planet.

"Looking at these results, and on a positive note, it is great to see that a healthy percentage of young people would consider working in our industry and crucially that, contrary to our hypothesis that the ad industry may be off-putting to them in terms of its perceived impact on the planet, it appears this isn’t the case.

"On a more cautious note, however, what we are seeing instead is that those working in our industry are far more anxious about climate change and the ad industry’s impact on it, and so it’s important that our businesses take heed of this and that we explore how we can help support and empower them best – both in the work we produce and in the conversations and feelings around it.

In short, what we’re seeing is that advertising’s impact on climate change is not necessarily a deterrent to recruitment into our industry but could well become a retention issue, if we don’t address these findings fully.

Pauline Robson, Chair of the IPA Media Climate Action Group and Managing Partner, Head of Sustainability, EssenceMediacom

The IPA Media Climate Action Group will be working with Ipsos to develop these findings with a full report to be published later in the year.

Technical note: This research was carried out by Ipsos on behalf of the IPA. All surveys were conducted online between 12th-19th April 2024. Base: All Advertising Agency Employees (sourced from the IPA Membership list) that responded to the survey n=545, UK Adults 16-75 n=1067, UK Adults 16 -24, n=475 (both from Ipsos online panel). Data for UK adults 16-75 and 16-24 has been weighted to known offline proportions for age and gender, region, social grade, working status and education in the UK population. No quotas or weighting were applied to the Advertising Agency Employee data.


The IPA Media Climate Action Group, comprising 52 media agencies, was formed in June 2021 to directly support Ad Net Zero’s Action 3: To curb emissions from media planning, buying and distribution.

The group also provides guidance on:

  • Reducing operational emissions
  • Brand Safety
  • Change the Brief

The group acts under the auspices of the larger IPA Media Futures Group. The group’s five workstreams of focus in the near term are:

  1. Media Decarbonisation
    • Making the new emissions measurement approach agreed by GARM available to UK climate charter members
    • Sharing media decarbonisation best practice
  2. Media Owner Showcase
    • Including basic ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) ratings data and input from Ad Net Zero media owner members
  3. Ways of working
    • An online platform for collaboration
    • Guardrails around how we collaborate
  4. Amplifying industry voices
    • Industry survey of agency people to get a breadth of perspectives on sustainability and the industry
  5. Outward facing comms
    • Sharing what we are doing with the wider industry and welcoming input / feedback
Last updated 15 May 2024