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Good for you and for the planet – Five sustainability campaigns we love

While the world is still in the midst of COVID-19 mania and our news headlines focus on health concerns and lifestyle changes, and we all continue to adjust to the new norm, we wanted to take a step back and look at the bigger picture and one of the other issues we, globally, continue to face. One which, in a similar way to social distancing, will takes us all working together to tackle: the environment.

Whilst buzzwords like ‘sustainability’ and ‘climate change’ can induce as much anxiety as ‘coronavirus’, they represent an invaluable opportunity for brands to showcase that they stand for something more than their bottom line. According to last year’s Global Web Index, 33% of consumers are seeing brands as responsible for the environment, so embedding sustainability and environmental consideration within every area of a business could be the difference between thriving and declining. 

In light of this, we have pulled together a list of some of the most inspiring sustainability campaigns from the last few months that demonstrate innovation, creativity and the positive impact that can come from communities pulling together for the greater good.

Brita’s #NoFilterNoFuture (September 2019)

German water filter manufacturing company Brita set out to raise awareness of the impact plastic bottles have on overall plastic pollution and so launched a creative cause-driven social media campaign. It involved enlisting 21 Instagram influencers to post images of themselves in stunning landscapes but be surrounded by pollution. Reaching 2.4 million consumers worldwide, the images shone a light on what the future will look like if we don’t act responsibly in regard to our plastic usage and instigated a deep and meaningful connection with consumers that was beyond Brita promoting its filtered reusable water bottles as the solution. Ultimately, by using a platform such as Instagram where the perfect photo is strived for and craved, Brita ingeniously contrasted this by showcasing the imperfect and ugly to draw attention to a not so implausible reality, while also paving the way for innovative ways of working with influencers. 

Corona’s plastic trash wall (March 2019)

Leading beer brand Corona has an ongoing partnership with non-profit organisation Parley for the Oceans and in an effort to drive conversation around this and their commitment to ocean pollution, built a huge plastic wall blocking visitors to Brazil’s iconic Ipanema Beach. Constructed from three days’ worth of rubbish discarded on the beach, the 15 metre long, 2 metre high wall was adorned with a sign that translated to, “One day, the trash left on the beach will stop you from getting into it”, sending a clear message of the stark ecological threat the world’s oceans face as a result of human’s consumption of plastic. By targeting such a popular location, Corona effectively communicated to a mass audience and by preventing access to the beach, disturbed a significant aspect of the locals lives which ultimately provoked introspection of what life would be like if they lost the beach permanently. 

IKEA’s Good Ship (February 2019)

As part of its continued commitment to enhance its sustainability efforts, furniture giant IKEA unveiled a remote-controlled boat, ‘The Good Ship IKEA’ to clear polluted waterways across London. The boat was equipped with ‘Orca’ technology that allowed it to collect up to 20kgs of rubbish at a time. As part of the initiative, the public were invited to steer the boats, a novelty activity that simultaneously educated the importance of keeping waterways clean, a simplistic yet effective way to involve the public in environmental sustainability and place it front of mind.

Coca-Cola x Diesel The (Re) Collection (October 2019)

Iconic brands, Coca-Cola and Diesel joined forces to demonstrate how consumers could be both on trend and environmentally conscious by releasing a 16-piece capsule collection that was partially made from recycled plastic bottles and cotton. The limited-edition collection sought to raise awareness about recycling and the potential to use recycled PET fibres in clothing production as well highlight to consumers a new way that they could reduce their carbon footprint without sacrificing their love of shopping. What was most significant about this campaign was that it was positioned in an aura of exclusivity. Rather than being readily available in retail outlets, the collection was sold on a hidden page on Diesel’s website only accessible once consumers scanned a recycling logo. By placing this kind of lock on the digital shop, consumers were made to engage with recycling before being rewarded, which in turn created a virtual community of likeminded people coming together to celebrate eco-fashion. 

Bacardi’s straw vinyl program (November 2019)

Bacardi Rum partnered with environmental organisation, Lonely Whale to launch its Straw Vinyl program which collected plastic straws from 55 bars across the United States and upcycled them into limited edition vinyl records. The initiative was part of its mission to the rid the world of one billion single-use plastic straws in one year. The vinyls were pressed with the hit summer anthem “Make it Hot” by Major Lazer and Anitta with the artists posting about the collaboration on social whilst encouraging consumers to get involved by donating their plastic straws to collection bins at participating bars. Consumers could then purchase the records with the proceeds going to Lonely Whale. Ultimately, the campaign’s effectiveness can be attested to the ease to which consumers could get involved and its unique premise to sprinkle art, culture and fun onto a serious issue and showcase how something negative can be repurposed into something uplifting and enjoyable. 

Implications and Insights

These campaigns each uniquely showcase the mass creative potential for brands to tap into the sustainability conversation. Here are some key insights that we can learn from them:

  • You must walk the talk – before getting creative about publicising your sustainability program, it is essential to have real, developed measurable goals in place
  • Having a tangible product or display helps consumers visualise and understand the impact that your sustainability program or upcycling / recycling initiative has 
  • Collaborating with other brands or organisations who share your sustainability mission can be an effective way to be innovative and forge relationships with new audiences
  • Don’t underestimate the importance of stats and facts – whether its engaging a credible expert, having third-party research that supports your activities or thorough background information on your production line, ensure that you support your campaign with a strong factual base
  • Consider avenues for your audience and consumers to be actively involved in a campaign and provide them with an opportunity to help be a part of the solution and share their experiences

We have experience in developing campaigns that amplify and support a brands sustainability mission. If you would like assistance in planning and executing a sustainability campaign, please get in touch!

Written by Analisse Mammone.