Åland Index Initiative by RBK

By Creative Review

BEST IN BOOK – Integrated campaigns

Entrant: RBK

Prompted by concerns over the effects of climate change on the Baltic Sea, the Finnish Bank of Åland helps its customers track the environmental impact of their credit card purchases.

Created by the Finnish commercial banking group Bank of Åland (which operates on the island of Åland as well as in Finland and Sweden), the Åland Index is an attempt to change customers’ behaviour for the benefit of the environment. The index measures the carbon footprint of all the transactions on an individual’s credit card bill, and then offers suggestions for ways in which they might compensate for this impact, in either global or local ways or in changes of lifestyle. In addition to introducing the Åland Index, the Bank of Åland is also replacing its plastic cards with an environmentally friendly, bio-sourced alternative.

The initiative was prompted by a recognition that the bank’s customers would actively like to support sustainability and would appreciate suggestions of ways in which to do this, alongside statistics that suggested that two-thirds of Swedes would change their bank if there was a more sustainable option on offer.

It is no secret that our consumer lifestyle is eating away at our planet. The Bank of Åland is situated on a group of beautiful islands at the very centre of the problem: 15% of the seabed of the Baltic Sea is already dead.

“It is no secret that our consumer lifestyle is eating away at our planet,” says Mathias Wikström, CEO at RBK Communication, the creative agency that created the initiative alongside the Bank of Åland. “In the Nordics we find both a dying sea and the highest usage of digital transactions and credit cards. The Bank of Åland is situated on a group of beautiful islands at the very centre of the problem: 15% of the seabed of the Baltic Sea is already dead.

“The bank wanted to act as a role model,” Wikström continues. “The way forward was to engage its clients in building awareness and to connect cause and effect…. To engage clients and nudge behaviour we needed a score card.”

The index uses data sent from the individual transactions and an automated process, developed in collaboration with the Bank of Åland, KPMG, MasterCard, Gemalto and Thomson Reuters, to verify these transactions and send them to the bank, where they are run through the Index to calculate the footprint that then appears on the monthly statement. Considerations in the calculation include the type of store that the customer might have shopped in (eg, a petrol station or a flower shop) and the cost of the product.

According to Wikström, the project’s success lay in strong collaboration across the team. “It is fantastic what people on a mission can accomplish,” he says. “From Berkeley, California to Mariehamn, Åland Islands; from Helsinki, Finland to White Plains, New Jersey; and from Stockholm, Sweden to Singapore, we worked with a group of talent that was committed to contributing their piece to the puzzle. The challenges were many but far less than you would expect. Anne-Maria Salonius, Director at the Bank of Åland and Tove Erikslund, CAO brought so much passion and energy to the project that once we had set the framework of the innovation and concept, there was no way of going back.

Aland Index Initiative

“Sure, working with this many global giants in one go sounds like an administrative nightmare, but from the data people at Thomson Reuters to the brand and account people at MasterCard, everyone pulled their weight and then some,” Wikström continues. “There were a few critical decisions on the journey. When the cause-devoted front design of the card was approved was one, and when the sustainability masterminds of KPMG presented the first debrief to our idea was another. Then we knew this would work.”

We are currently experiencing a trend for brands to adopt ‘good’ policies in order to attract customers, though for anyone that fears that this might be just another piece of CSR-driven marketing, it is important to note the Bank of Åland’s long association with environmental issues, which goes back over two decades. Since 1997, the bank has donated over 1.3 million euros to environmental efforts by both large and small organisations.

At present, all 90,000 clients of the Bank of Åland are signed up to the Åland Index, though the team behind it are also offering the idea to other banking organisations in the hope that such carbon monitoring may become an industry norm. So far, according to Wikström, there is interest from several other banks in the Nordics.

“The banks that we are in discussions with have a total client base of over 4 million, and other credit card companies as well as one full country are looking into how to engage in the initiative,” he says.

But for Wikström, the overall ambition for the Åland Index stretches far wider than this. “To me this initiative is a success once all credit cards in the world can disclose the true cost of your purchase and enable the consumer to act on it,” he says.

For more about the Index, see balticseaproject.org


Entrant/Agency: RBK. Client: The Bank of Åland.Agency RBK. Innovation & Strategy: Mathias Wikström. CDs: Erik Larsson, Johan Phil. Head of Digital: Linda Wohlfeil. Graphic Design: Lars Anéer. Copywriter: Jocke Enegren. Engagement & Activation: Fredrik Linder. Digital: Leroy. CEO: Monika Nars. Digital Manager: Rickard Lindgren. Film: DBY. CEO: Marcus Johansson. Motion Producer: Robin Magnusson. Film: Noir. Producer: Martin Nabelek. For Ålandsbanken: : Director Finland, Ålandsbanken: Anne-Maria Salonius: CAO / CSR: Tove Erikslund. CEO: Peter Wiklöf. Digital: Karl Borenius. Manager Market Data: Kristoffer Barkar. Director Financial Intelligence: Lasse Danielsson. For MasterCard:Design Director: Charles Unger. Brand Director: Judy Vigiletti. SVP Business Development: Ola Höglund. Marketing Manager: Frida Almgren. For Gemalto: Marketing Director: Christian Hartwigsson. Business Development: Joachim Blafield. For KPMG: Director Sustainability Consulting: Helena Mueller. Sustainability Consulting: Daniel Dellham, Erik Wedershoven. Film: WinterAx . Film: Marcus Johansson, Robin Magnusson, Simon Jansson. Foto: Viktor Fremling, Ragnar Ómarsson, Svenska Kustbevakningen. Ilustration: Parisgrafik. Contributor: Ann Ernerot.

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