Toolkit for advertising and marketing courses


Lead organization: The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

Website: This publication is available for download here. The Interactive Online CD-ROM is available here.

Summary: The Toolkit is a flexible, interactive resource for the educators training future marketing, advertising and communications professionals. The project combines theory, practice and case studies to engage students with sustainability issues in a business context.

Objective: The objectives are to build the capacity of marketing and communications professionals, students and educators on sustainability issues and to demonstrate the business case for sustainability communications

The story: UNEP, in association with UNESCO and the International Association of Universities, wanted to change established practices in the advertizing and marketing sectors by highlighting best practices, and inspiring young students and professionals to combine sustainability and communications for positive change. Presented in CD-ROM format and online, the toolkit has four modules:

  • Sustainable development: ethics and social practices
  • The economic and social context for sustainability communications
  • The practice of sustainability communications: from innovation to risk
  • Practices and exercises in marketing and communication

Available in French and English, the toolkit is packed full of guidance and examples. It contains simulation exercises, downloadable pdfs and numerous weblinks for further information plus 31 in-depth and 22 short case studies.

Outcomes & lessons learnt: Over 900 CD-ROMs have been distributed, with the majority going to members of the International Association of Universities and the European Association of Communications Agencies. The Toolkit has also been distributed at several World Conferences on Education and was introduced during the Cannes Lions Festival (the most famous international advertizing competition) in 2008. It is also being used by some business schools and universities to improve or design new courses. In one instance, the University of Montreal launched a new course in 2009 based on the toolkit material.

Lessons:  The project provides a number of lessons for those looking to engage people on sustainable lifestyles:

  • Enabling change is vital: The project found that whilst there was often a willingness to change, lecturers, marketers and students lacked the resources and understanding to effectively engage with sustainable lifestyles. The toolkit enabled courses to provide this teaching.
  • Resources should be flexible and interactive: The project found that whilst it is important to provide people with useful resources, the resources should be flexible enough for people to adapt to their own needs and circumstances
  • Change norms and challenge established practice: UNEP challenged established practices in the advertizing and marketing sectors by highlighting best practice and inspiring young students and professionals. They found that the industry took the challenge on with enthusiasm.

Ms. Solange Montillaud-Joyel, United Nations Environment Programme: