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Positive Provocation

By activating a game-changing strategy for BMW, our eco-effectiveness modelling allowed us to understand the effectiveness of our media in light of its carbon footprint, establish a baseline for optimisations and show there is no trade-off between sustainability and ROI.


In 2021, BMW aimed to drive greater effectiveness from their media and implement their global ambition of a sustainable supply chain, including media and marketing.

Through extensive econometric modelling, we tackled the first half of that challenge by optimising our media plans based on insights into the short- and long-term drivers of sales. However, the second half of that challenge was posing a problem.

Although the GroupM Carbon Calculator showed the carbon footprint of our media plan, it sat in isolation from our econometrics. This created a tension between optimising our plan for sales and optimising our plan for carbon output. To deliver on both metrics, we had to find a way to fuse these two vital data-sets, enabling us to understand the potential trade-offs and ultimately optimise our media plan to effectively strike a balance.


While a lot of work has already been undertaken to understand the environmental impact of different marketing investments, these are all slightly abstract cases – benchmarks and averages rather than data that is specific to an individual brand’s approach. What’s more, these measures don’t allow us to see the trade-offs between commercial effectiveness and environmental impact.

We knew that if a brand like BMW bought less media in the UK, there would be less environmental impact. But that approach was too simplistic. We needed to manage the commercial realities of the BMW UK business and turn carbon impact into an optimisable quantity like sales growth or ROI. To do this, we needed to create a new optimisation currency – eco-effectiveness. Enabling us to understand the kilograms of carbon generated per sale per channel, and balance that with the volume of sales.


First, we identified the carbon impact of the existing BMW plan by auditing every piece of BMW communications in the UK for the last 3 years and identified the carbon cost using GroupM’s media carbon calculator. Then, this data was fused with our econometric outputs allowing us to calculate, for every media touchpoint, the carbon impact per sale generated. It enabled us to categorise channels into 4 groups:

  1. Doubly inefficient – Low ROI, High Carbon Impact
  2. Environmental prioritisation – Low ROI, Low Carbon Impact
  3. Commercial prioritisation – High ROI, High Carbon Impact
  4. Best of both worlds – High ROI, Low Carbon Impact

With this data, we completed a static review of past performance and augmented all the diminishing returns curves within the models with the carbon efficiency data. This allowed us to not only see how carbon efficient a given touchpoint was in the past, but crucially, where the opportunities are to drive future sales growth while still balancing carbon efficiency. This data has now been fed into a new econometric optimisation tool, allowing us to optimise the whole of BMW UK’s media investment based on its commercial and carbon impact.


Wavemaker’s eco-effectiveness modelling delivered a perfect solution  to realise BMW’s bold sustainability ambitions.

Award-winning work

  • Econometrics – Media Week Awards 2022
  • Best custom media research project (agency) – MediaTel Research Awards 2022
  • Automotive – Campaign Media Awards 2023
Reduced media driven carbon YOY
Sales improvement with no incremental environmental impact

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