James Moat Avery Dennison
Director, Global Digital Corporate Communications, Avery Dennison, James Moat


The marriage of editorial and branded content on one cohesive platform can oftentimes be a blissful union. This proved to be the case for Avery Dennison, the global manufacturer of adhesive materials, and The Guardian, the British daily newspaper. We talk to Avery Dennison’s Director of Global Digital Corporate Communications, James Moat about their recent campaign in partnership with The Rainforest Alliance. Moat tells us about the process behind the “Vital Signs” campaign, measuring success, and the importance of transparency with branded content.

Walk us through the process of how this incredible sustainability campaign came about and the collaborative process between The Guardian, Avery Dennison, and the Rainforest Alliance.

Our Avery Dennison Foundation team, led by our Foundation President Alicia Maddox,  has been working with the Rainforest Alliance since 2013, and in 2014 we wanted to make a bigger impact in our efforts to create more awareness around sustainability. That’s when we were presented with the opportunity from The Guardian. Originating in 2014, they branded the program “Vital Signs,”which attempts to influence viewership by “making the critical connection between people and the planet.”

The “Vital Signs” platform has a concentrated focus on sustainability, so stories about FSC-certified products, better conditions for communities, processes that reduce waste to landfills are ideal. As long as the story was educational on something sustainable – for either people or the planet – it achieved the objective. The end goal was to position our brand as an organization that is making a difference and, more importantly, influence viewers to make a difference in their own personal lives.

How important is transparency in a campaign like this?  

Transparency is critical, period! In fact, our storytelling framework in social media and our blog are focused heavily on making our brand as transparent as possible. Avery Dennison recently published its sustainability report that reports on our progress and outlines our ambitious goals for 2025. We want to challenge ourselves to reach higher and think bigger, and hold ourselves accountable for what we’ve set out to do.

What were some obstacles and how did you and your teams overcome them?

As you know, generating content on a regular basis is no easy feat. One hurdle was finding ways to resonate with audiences we typically don’t have exposure with, Millennials. We were able to be effective by developing various content types, e.g. video, infographics, photo galleries, etc.

How did the editorial content that was included in the campaign actually get crafted? What teams were involved? Was there a documented strategy in place?

The process at Avery Dennison consisted of heavy brainstorming on a monthly basis of the stories/issues we wanted to address. We managed a dedicated editorial calendar strictly for The Guardian campaign. The teams really consisted of everyone in our organization and included, our Foundation, environment, health and safety, and marketing and communications. It truly was an effort by dozens of groups and individuals.

What did you hope to accomplish with branded content? Did you?

We wanted to accomplish two things: One, educate the younger viewership on our commitment to becoming a more sustainable company. And two, inspire others through the joint collaboration to be more sustainable, whether that be through recycling, reduction of waste and/or reusing materials to deflect from going to landfills. Mission accomplished!

How was this partnership mutually beneficial?

The Guardian is known to be a publisher that wants to educate people on sustainability and Avery Dennison wanted to work with a platform that had a major commitment to sustainability, so the partnership seemed to really make a lot of sense.

What do you think The Guardian’s platform did for Avery Dennison’s branded content and why was it a successful campaign?

We had an assessment done before and after the campaign and the outcome was tremendously positive for Avery Dennison. The assessment mainly focused on sentiment about our brand and the volume of engagement that occurred with the content we published on The Guardian platform. While I can’t give specifics, we found the uptick of conversation and sentiment to be significant during the campaign dates.

What do you hope The Guardian readers took from the Avery Dennison experience?

For us, we wanted to ensure that our brand was positioned to make a difference for a more sustainable world for future generations to come and, inspire others – businesses or individuals – to have a bigger role for a healthier planet. Our CEO, Dean Scarborough is extremely passionate about changing the direction of our industry to a more sustainable direction.

How did you measure the success and what do you think signify a successful campaign? Did you segment your audience of readers?

We measured success by tracking sentiment and volume of conversations about our brand during the campaign period. We’re a 100% B2B organization, so the average consumer doesn’t typically understand our business at Avery Dennison. We wanted to change that through content marketing that educates consumers on our businesses, but in an intuitive and consumer friendly way.

Would you do it again?

Absolutely. While the eight-month program ended in June 2015, it was a very positive experience and we will certainly consider the opportunity, and opportunities like it, going forward. We still continue to see both the Rainforest Alliance and The Guardian  as life-long partnerships.

The Authors

Content Science is a growing content strategy and intelligence company and the publisher of Content Science Review. We empower digital enterprises for the content era by taking their content approach to the next level. Customers of our professional services and one-of-a-kind products (such as ContentWRX and Content Science Academy) include the Fortune 50, the world’s largest nonprofits, and the most trusted government agencies.

James Moat holds the role of Director, Global Digital Corporate Communications at Avery Dennison, a global leader in label and packaging materials and solutions. He’s a seasoned digital marketing strategy professional with nearly two decades of experience bridging gaps between internal business partners, third parties, and technology stakeholders. His career has been primarily focused on digital consumer experiences that drive sales, increase market share, create brand awareness, and/or amplify customer loyalty and retention. His current priority is to continue to develop an omni-channel mindset.


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