Cannes Lions

The Signing Cups


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Demo Film
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I Love Coffee is South Africa's first coffee shop run for and by the deaf, an award-winning enterprise development that trains and employs deaf people - serving as a bridge to a more integrated and financially independent life.

But with only 1% of South Africans understanding sign language, the ordering interaction can be difficult and even awkward when customers can’t speak directly to the baristas.

Our brief from client was to help get customers on board with learning how to sign for coffee, inspiring them to start an inclusive conversation, and to make the experience fun and memorable.

Our budget for production was $1500.


To get customers to sign for their orders, we created a range of "Signing Cups" - coffee cups that literally demonstrated how to order in sign.

By rotating the cup’s outer sleeve, customers could learn how to sign for their favourite coffee through a simple interactive animation. The effect was delivered through painstakingly illustrated and laser-cut lenticular sleeves.

This simple tactile design invited an immediate bridge between customers and deaf baristas. A memorable moment that made a connection - and also made it easier to trade.

It brought deaf people into the conversation - which is the embodiment of their company's purpose.

From a customer point of view, it made the experience more memorable, and inspired them to start a conversation with a deaf person, experience coffee culture in a new way.


The Coffee Cup packaging design was a series of 4 individual sleeves, each one showing how to sign a different order.

Each cup and sleeve were painstakingly designed and tested to ensure functional simplicity and an immediate interaction.

The paper cups were printed and the sleeves laser cut in a limited run of 2000.

The cups and sleeves were used at their outlet and supported the launch of a new outlet to drive interaction and talkability.

The designs earned additional reach for the business and its purpose through PR, social media and broadcast.


I Love Coffee has created a new way to experience coffee culture, while building a bridge between the hearing and the deaf. The cups helped own that experience and make it more memorable.

The designs also helped a small business push its purpose to a wider audience through word of mouth and earned media (digital, local press and radio).

Their new premises in Cape Town has grown from strength to strength, employing more deaf people, creating more "signing" customers - and making a connection with every cup.