Australian Wool Innovation grabs attention with new international advertising campaign

An image of men and women covered in black oil, emerging from a swimming pool is part of a new international advertising campaign to sell more wool.

Levy-funded research and marketing group Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) has launched the new advertising campaign to highlight the sustainability of wool, compared to synthetic textiles.

The ad, which will air in America, the UK, France and Australia, depicts people swimming in a pool of black oil, struggling to get out.

When they finally emerge, they strip off their dripping clothes to reveal clean woolen goods underneath.

AWI said it was based on the idea that “every 25 minutes, an Olympic pool’s worth of crude oil is used to produce synthetic clothing, which is nearly 350 million barrels per year.”

The AWI is part of a campaign to influence how the EU determines the eco-credentials of clothing. (Supplied: AWI)

AWI CEO John Roberts said they aimed to educate consumers about how clothing was produced.

“Everyone is passionate about sustainability…and if you want to be true to sustainability, you have to look at what kind of clothes you wear and what the composition of those clothes is.”

The new ad isn’t the first eye-catching video crafted by AWI’s marketing arm, The Woolmark Company, which also created a 2020 China campaign featuring a celebrity interviewing three sheep.

This campaign has attracted hundreds of millions of views.

A woman walks through green fields carrying wool.
The ad was produced by AWI’s marketing arm, The Woolmark Company. (Supplied: AWI)

Ad responds to EU sustainable labeling proposal

The new advertisement contradicts the European Union’s proposed sustainability labeling laws, which could see synthetic textiles ranked above natural fibers like wool.

The AWI is part of a campaign called Make The Label Count, which aims to influence how the EU determines the eco-credentials of clothing.

Mr Roberts said they were trying to move away from the ‘one size fits all’ approach currently on offer.

“It highlights all the good things… about synthetics and the negatives about wool.

“We’re trying to put the ledger right there.”

Mr Roberts said the methodology proposed by the EU ignored the creation of microplastics through synthetic production and did not take into account the biodegradable nature of wool.

“As a textile community, we need to come to some sort of consensus on what’s sustainable and what’s not,” he said.

People are helped out of a pool of oil
The advertisement for the new wool features people stepping out of a pool of oil before changing into clean woolen clothes.(Supplied: AWI)

Risk of greenwashing

Alice Payne, a fashion expert from Queensland University of Technology, said 60-70% of clothing was made from synthetic materials and described the new advert as “a pretty compelling visual”.

“[The ad] talks about this idea that fossil fuels, they’re essentially non-renewable, it comes with these connotations of oil-covered seabirds,” she said.

Dr. Payne expected more companies to emphasize sustainability in marketing in the future, in line with changing consumer trends.

“The challenge of course is that when you’re marketed around this idea of ​​natural, and what is nature, there’s a risk that it lends itself to greenwashing…and we’re seeing that more and more in the world,” said Dr. Payne.

Will consumers pay more?

Woolen products are more expensive than synthetic fabrics and there are several other factors that consumers might consider when trying to shop sustainably.

“I think consumers are pretty overwhelmed to a large extent, there’s a lot of different information out there,” Dr Payne said.

“There are all the issues throughout the life cycle of the garment, whether it is how the garments are dyed… or the well-being of the workers.

“Governments and industry are saying we need to have stronger definitions of what’s on offer here.”

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