Helping Microsoft raise the bar on corporate sustainability

Microsoft

How WE told the story of Microsoft’s carbon reduction moonshot

 

PROBLEM 

In January 2020, Microsoft was the first major corporation to set a bold goal to be carbon negative — moving beyond carbon neutral — by 2030, and by 2050 to remove all the carbon it has emitted into the atmosphere since its founding in 1975. Microsoft also created the Climate Innovation Fund, committing $1 billion to fund new innovations and climate solutions, including carbon removal. And, the company committed to a high level of transparency so others could learn from what worked and what didn’t.

This initiative was much more ambitious than similar plans at other companies, but in an environment where companies in many industries are making promises about sustainability, sorting through what’s real and what isn’t can be difficult. As such, we knew convincing media, partners and customers to pay attention and view Microsoft’s plan differently would be a challenge. The campaign’s goals were to:

  • Help audiences understand the science, math and meaning behind how companies account for carbon and a common understanding of the terms they use.
  • Help Microsoft elevate and shift the global carbon conversation to focus on more rigorous and verifiable approaches to tackling carbon emissions.

SOLUTION 

Climate change continues to be a charged topic, and we knew Microsoft’s plan would spark interest across multiple audience segments. To reach them, the team engaged with a wide array of media outlets, including consumer, business, finance, science, technology and public policy. We needed to educate and provide context for Microsoft’s carbon accounting and science-based plan without losing sight of the initiative as a whole. Centering the message on Microsoft’s “moonshot” helped drive home the magnitude of the commitment.

Timing was critical. The announcement was scheduled for the week before the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, where CEOs, government agencies and politicians gather to discuss global issues, with the environment topping the list of this year’s meeting. With the tragic wildfires in Australia continuing to burn and the rise of climate activist influencers, we had the opportunity to position Microsoft’s sweeping initiative as the gold standard for tech companies stepping up to change the world.

RESULTS

Microsoft’s commitment resonated with governments, industry leaders, media and influencers alike. The level of detail, specificity around its plan to go carbon negative, transparency on the inherent challenges and the magnitude of the company’s investment resulted in:

  • Global leaders at the WEF in Davos cited Microsoft as the prime example of a large company committed to sustainability
  • 2,110 earned media placements globally, including 465 original articles. Highlights include Bloomberg, the BBC, Wall Street Journal, Fast Company and CNN
  • 1,834 broadcast hits, reaching more than 9.3M TV viewers and 43.1M weekly radio listeners. Highlights include NPR’s Morning Tech
  • 25,000+ Twitter mentions and 100,000 engagements
  • Microsoft’s approach is becoming part of the master narrative media use when covering the commitments and plans of other companies, further entrenching it in the broader conversation about addressing critical climate change challenges

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