Luca Tapognani, Ogilvy Italy: "Adopting a thorough and integrated approach to sustainability has shifted to imperative."

Creativity is a powerful tool that can push people to take action for the betterment of the planet

by India Fizer , AdForum

Ogilvy Italy
Full Service
Milan, Italy
See Profile


Agencies have significant impact on the world around us, through influencing viewer's perceptions and sometimes, their actions. Luca Tapognani, Head of Strategy & Consulting at Ogilvy Italy, speaks on utilizing these bonds that are already in place with the audience to drive positive impact, and being transparent about a brand's commitment to sustainability.


How are you advising clients on sustainable messaging and product development?

Having a positive impact on the world is one of the fundamental principles of how we approach brands at Ogilvy, and our clients’ overall strategy have historically had an embedded and structured approach towards the role of sustainability. Today, the effort is no longer optional: adopting a thorough and integrated approach to sustainability has shifted to imperative.

Obviously, the key issue is striving to avoid greenwashing, and the first step is to respect employees and their community. When sustainability isn’t rooted internally – as in diversity, sustainable practices, giving back to your territory, control and optimization of the supply chain – it hardly can be credible in external communication.

Secondly, walk the talk, be precise and transparent: it's easy to make big statements or awareness campaigns, yet today people will check and understand if you have the right credentials. The important thing is to set clear goals and show that you are working to achieve them. 

The third point is distinctiveness. While sustainability is increasingly becoming a basic requirement for companies, the way it is done and conveyed makes all the difference.

A strong connection with the audience and distinctiveness are an "insurance” for radical change. Favour products with components improving their quality as well as key towards rising sustainability issues: having a strong emotional bond to leverage can ease the necessary process of disruption.


Have you implemented any sustainability initiatives in your own workflow?  If so, can you tell us what steps other agencies can take to lead by example and adopt sustainable practices within their own operations?

Agencies themselves certainly have an impact on the environment, though the biggest impact is in what they do in culture through their clients. Therefore, they must be consistent by the same principles: clear KPIs and be the first to share the same values they communicate for brands. 

Ogilvy has always strived to be a forerunner in implementing sustainable practices across a variety of actions, from DEI to environmental issues, and Italy is no exception.

As part of the WPP Group, we are committed to achieving Net Zero in our operations by 2025; this includes emissions from the placement of advertising, a first in the industry. By the same year, we are also aiming to exclusively use electricity sourced from renewable. 

We are working on a day-to-day basis to reduce CO2 emissions in our daily commutes and setting up initiatives at our campus – this year for Earth Day we will be volunteering to clean the Naviglio, the river overlooked by our offices. 

Ogilvy Italy has also been rated Silver in the Ecovadis Sustainability Rating, something we are quite proud of and will continue working to maintain and, of course, improve.


In what ways can agencies help promote sustainable practices and drive meaningful change towards environmental protection?

The conversation around sustainability is increasingly frequent within the media and creative industry. When you understand that Times Square* alone consumes enough megawatts to power hundreds of thousands of homes, you ask yourself if something better could be done.

Because of the role we play, it is crucial not just for HR or strategists but for everyone in the agency to have these conversations: checking biases and educating ourselves on what aspects of our industry could and should be improved – not just with the messages we push forward, but the overall recommendations we share with our clients and the way we build campaigns, from choosing less-polluting mediums to focusing on internal proactivity on solving key client's problems.

The key point is always creativity: we have this powerful tool that can help people change their mindset and take action, we can be the first ones to make the world see things differently and innovate.


What is your POV on advertisings responsibility to take action in shifting consumer preferences towards eco-conscious practices, brands, and products?

One of the most concrete actions that brands can take is providing effective tools for people to understand issues and adopt sustainable behaviors.

Despite a widespread desire for greener lifestyles, a significant action-intention gap persists. It's a complex issue that involves a wide variety of choices and changes. It is our job to simplify it and make the transition to new behaviors a simple, positive, and rewarding experience for people.

At Ogilvy in particular, Behavioral Science practice helps to tackle behaviors and drive positive change: in communication by reframing information in a clearer and more credible way, and in product and process innovation, where understanding the human behavior can help overcoming barriers, develop new features, and build positive experiences around the product.