Cone and OgilvyEarth, specialist marketing communications agencies, lead the U.S. market for sustainability communications agencies, according to a new report from Verdantix.
A key finding of the four-month study shows a gap between the needs of Fortune 500 firms to communicate sustainability performance to business and consumer audiences and the lack of ideas, strategies and frameworks offered by most of the agencies in the study, said Verdantix.
The Verdantix report, “Green Quadrant Sustainable Communications US 2010,” compares 18 U.S. agencies offering sustainability communications advice on 41 criteria. Assessment criteria include sustainability communications frameworks, defining the sustainability-brand connection and communicating to employees, customers, investors and suppliers.
The study finds that Cone and OgilvyEarth lead the sustainability communications market due to a clear sustainability vision supported by processes and methodologies specifically designed to address sustainability communications challenges. They go beyond promoting current initiatives and create brand platforms that are catalysts for change, said Verdantix.
The study also indicates that investment could drive four agencies — Cohn & Wolfe, Context America, Edelman and Ketchum — ahead in 2011. The study shows that these agencies demonstrate a strong sustainable business perspective and investment in their sustainability practice.
However, the Green Quadrant scores for these four agencies’ capabilities are significantly below Cone and OgilvyEarth in a variety of different criteria. Edelman scores lower on the sustainability readiness assessment and in communicating sustainability to investors. Ketchum has lower scores in communicating sustainability to employees and in defining the sustainability- brand connection.
All agencies flunk the test on their own sustainable business strategy, said Verdantix. The study suggests that all agencies should demonstrate they can “walk the walk” as well as “talk the talk” on sustainability by implementing innovative, transparent and authentic sustainability communications strategies that connect with their brands.
The research analysts also recommend that chief sustainability officers and brand directors must select their agencies based on their expertise, and not on their brand presence or global scale. They should also develop “rigorous” selection criteria for choosing their marketing agencies.
Chart: Specialists Are Top Of Mind With Purchasers