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In our next ESG interview, we speak to Aisha Graham, Production Manager at Happy Hour Productions to hear a view from the creative side of the industry. Aisha joined Happy Hour in 2018. Prior to advertising, Aisha worked in manufacturing but decided on a career change and moved to Bristol to start her career in media. At Happy Hour, Aisha spearheads sustainability initiatives, processes and practices within the business. 

Q. Tell me about what Happy Hour are doing currently that relates to ESG and sustainability and your involvement in this.

A. Throughout my life I have felt strongly about environmental, social issues and injustices. I come from a family of social workers and dare I say, hippies, who care immensely about sustainability (both out of need and responsibility) and about fairness for all. This foundation seeped into all aspects of my life and career which developed into an attachment to ESG within the workplace.

At Happy Hour, I spearhead our sustainability initiatives, processes and practices (e.g. paperless office, switching to reusable cups and flasks, refillable hand soap bottles, swapping paper for cotton towels, working with our cleaners to use 100% eco-friendly products, hiring electric vans for shoots and more). I also organised a work placement for five Bristol students to gain experience in the notoriously hard to break-into TV industry. I am always striving for improvements and updates to business practices and accountability, community engagement and diversity & inclusion. And I am committed to staying informed and taking steps towards addressing ESG issues, through both work and personal actions.

Outside of work, I am always trying to reduce my family’s carbon footprint. I shop in our local refill grocery store, use cloth nappies for our baby, don’t eat meat and last year we upgraded to an electric car which has been incredible.

As an SME, Happy Hour has the unique opportunity to engage all co-workers in the development and continual refinement of our ESG strategy and principles.

Our workplace culture is ‘earth-first’, and we’re proud that over 85% of our employees either cycle, walk, use public transport or drive an electric vehicle to work. We have also introduced other initiatives to reduce our environmental footprint, such as:

  • Using 100% renewable energy suppliers
  • Promoting a paperless office (we’re almost there!)
  • Creating and implementing a sustainability-focused shoot guidelines policy which leads with the five ‘Rs’ – Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose and Recycle. This is especially important as, when it comes to shooting, elements like props, sets, lighting, catering transport etc. can contribute hugely to landfill waste and carbon emissions
  • Building relationships and switching contracts to local businesses that have certifiable green credentials
  • Actively involving and training staff with organisations such as AdGreen, Albert, Green Alliance, Giki Zero. Here’s a little more info on these businesses:

AdGreen: Its purpose is to motivate the advertising industry to reduce the negative environmental impacts of production and enable the community to measure and understand waste and carbon emissions.

Albert: Is the home of environmental sustainability for the screen industries – to share, learn and act on our impact, including free, bespoke training days to everyone in the TV and film industries.

Green Alliance: Is an independent think tank and charity focused on ambitious leadership for the environment. Since 1979, it has been working with the most influential leaders in business, NGOs and politics to accelerate political action and create transformative policy for a green and prosperous UK.

Giki Zero: Is a B Corp and United Nations Race To Zero Accelerator for employee engagement, led by sustainability professionals and supported by climate experts, on a mission to help people cut carbon.


Q. Do you think advertisers/ clients should be planning media investment with ESG goals in mind?

A. Absolutely. Consumers value brands that demonstrate a commitment to environmental and social responsibility. Advertisers and clients should consider ESG factors in their media planning to not only contribute to sustainability but also to appeal to a conscientious consumer base. By doing this, they can not only make a positive environmental impact but also enhance their brand reputation.


Q. Are advertisers/clients and their agencies leaning forward on this topic collaboratively?

A. Yes, we’ve seen a noticeable shift towards collaborative efforts between advertisers and agencies in addressing ESG issues. Many clients now see the value in aligning their brands with sustainability goals and agencies are proactively incorporating ESG considerations into their strategies. This collaboration is fostering a more responsible and ethical approach to advertising, creating a win-win situation for brands, agencies, production companies and consumers alike. This almost always plays a part in the pitch/tender process and can start as early as the RFI, with clients wanting to make sure that their supply chain is supporting them in achieving their ESG goals.


Q. Who is inspiring you or innovating in this area at the moment?

A. From a creative point of view, we’ve recently seen a couple of genius, hard hitting ads which went out in the run up to COP28.

The first by Lucky Generals really makes us think about our individual carbon footprints when it comes to pensions and how/where they’re invested. The ad uses actress Olivia Coleman to deliver a satirical message about the damage that obliviously investing into pension funds is having on the environment, cleverly using humour and emotion to deliver hard hitting messages.

Check out the ad here

The second is by 4Creative, developed to promote Channel 4’s Climate Change Season and question the damage being done by those at the top. It pokes fun at those stereotypes in power who aren’t taking climate change seriously, asking are they doing enough to reduce their “carbon skid mark”. It certainly raises a few eyebrows and gets you thinking!

Check out the ad here


Q. If you were King/Queen for the day, what ESG policy would you decree?!

A. That all able-bodied, employed adults do compulsory water-ways clean-ups, once a week, for three hours. Whether rivers, ponds, seas or oceans, wherever is local to them. This time would be within working hours and would be classed as a minimum ‘donation’ from each employer to the climate emergency.

Happy Hour Productions is a leading TV and video advertising agency, covering everything from animation to live action, all delivered in-house, under one big, happy roof in Bristol. It is currently ranked in the top 35 creative agencies in the UK, and in the top two outside London.

Happy Hour is well experienced in developing original TV ads and video content for clients of all shapes and sizes, from scale-ups to well-known brands, across all sectors including retail, food & drink, education, financial services, property and travel.


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