Fortum Circo® Handle

TBWA\HELSINKI, Helsinki / FORTUM / 2020


1 Gold Eurobest
1 Shortlisted Eurobest
Presentation Image
Case Film
10 Minute Presentation






Clean-energy company Fortum is also the leading producer of recycled plastic in the Nordics. They collect waste plastic from both consumer packaging waste and industrial waste, grind it and manufacture Fortum Circo® plastic pellets, a versatile recycled raw material for nearly any plastic products.

In its home market Finland, Fortum is only known as an energy company. The brief was to raise awareness about Fortum Circo® plastics and to enforce the perception of Fortum as a circular economy company.

Originally, the brief was met with two ideas which both involved a presence in large global events in 2020. As Covid-19 hit the world in spring 2020, it was soon evident that the whole campaign had to be rethought in the radically new circumstances. The original campaign ideas involving entertainment felt not only impossible to execute, but also too light in approach.


Fortum quickly realized one issue it could help with: hand hygiene on surfaces in public places. Especially door and cabinet handles in stores get touched by thousands of clients every day, making them hotspots for infections. Electric doors with motion detectors would have solved the problem, but switching every single door and cabinet in every store would have taken months (if not years) and cost billions per country.

That’s why Fortum created the Fortum Circo® Handle: a simple add-on suiting all types of existing door handles, allowing people to open doors with their arm, minimizing touching the handles with their palms and fingers. It not only prevents infections, but also helps disabled, who have trouble grabbing handles or lack finger strength, open doors more easily. Fortum Circo® Handle is manufactured from Fortum’s 100% recycled Circo® plastic, using no virgin materials.


Our PR strategy relied heavily on recognizing our key messages and tailoring them to potential media. In this case we identified multiple potential media e.g. general media, retail media, design media, tech media and sustainability media. We then proceeded to think our case from each of their points of view, while keeping the focus relevant to Fortum’s brand and their Fortum Circo® business.

For certain media the key message revolved more around recycled plastics as a material; for more general ones around the overall Covid-19 situation in Finland and globally. In addition to tailoring the key messages we also modified all the materials from press releases to images and videos depending on the media.

To gain the maximum earned media attention we created relevant outlet and contact lists for different angles in Cision and hand-picked the most relevant journalists to be contacted personally.


Because of the medical urgency of the pandemia, the Fortum Circo® Handle prototypes were ideated, designed, 3D printed and installed in the first stores in only 21 days.

The first very rough prototypes were designed during the first week and 3d-printed, so that they could be quickly tested in-store (for usability, durability and attaching to different kinds of levers and handles).

Finland's biggest retail chain S-Group became interested, and two weeks later, the piloting started in S-Group’s Alepas (grocery stores) in the Helsinki area. During the piloting, the use of the Handles in the stores was constantly monitored and recorded. In addition, the product designers interviewed both clients and the Alepa staff to learn more about the usability of the prototypes.


In a matter of days, news of the Fortum Circo® Handle reached the media globally. Over 170 news media in 93 countries wrote about it, including the likes of Fox News and New York Post, the reach being 327 997 597 and earned media value 3 029 715 €. In a few weeks, over 120 retail and manufacturing companies from around the world contacted Fortum about ordering Fortum Circo® Handles or about collaborating in mass producing them from Fortum Circo®.

And after only 1,5 months of the launch, the Finnish design icon Fiskars Group agreed to start mass manufacturing and selling the Handles globally. The deal with Fiskars not only makes infection preventing handles available at scale everywhere, but it also acts as a powerful reference for Fortum Circo®: if an appreciated design company approved Circo® as their raw material, it encourages future clients to give Circo® a chance, too.

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