Cannes Lions

THE VETIVER PROJECT

TBWA\SANTIAGO MANGADA PUNO, Makati City / LION CORPORATION / 2015

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Case Film
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Overview

Entries

Credits

Overview

Description

The Pasig River, Manila's main waterway, was transformed into a 25-kilometer sewer system. In 1990, ecologists considered it 'biologically dead.'

HANA, a personal care brand, believes in the restorative power of nature. They wanted to join the movement to revive the most polluted river in the country, but they wanted to create more than just an ad with a message.

To stay true to the brand's personality, the heart and soul of the campaign had to be about nature, and to make their message more powerful, it also had to set an example to the people. Seeing that there were no available channels that could fully translate this, the brand created its own.

Hana mounted the first ever Water-Cleaning Billboards. Powered by nature, they are floating systems placed on the river and made of vetiver – grass that can absorb pollutants in wastewater. More than a message, the billboards were actually cleaning the river itself. As the local government worked to remove the solid garbage, the billboards purified the water.

The river now spoke directly to the thousands of passers-by and nearby residents were asked to think twice before throwing waste inside. To further amplify the message, a PR campaign was launched, with most efforts directed at websites and environmental organizations, as they would be most responsive to the messages. Articles from the organizations were then passed on to social media. The buzz reached national news, and international events that champion sustainability. All over the world, these billboards set an example to the country as they helped clean the most polluted river in the Philippines.

Execution

HANA mounted the first Water-Cleaning Billboards, made of vetiver, grass that absorbs water pollutants.

The billboards were cleaning the river while sending a message to the people to stop throwing waste inside.

The billboards spread on social media, local and international news. More importantly, they set an example to the country as they helped clean the most polluted river in the Philippines.

Outcome

As the billboard reduced the pollution below, change was happening above as well. People along the river were inspired to help keep it clean. It became a sign of hope for the residents, students and the community nearby.

The campaign was also featured in the national news and even invited to present at the Sustainable Brands Conference in London, an annual conference that recognizes the top sustainable brands all around the world.

From local primetime news alone, the billboard earned roughly USD 28,000 of free media mileage. Globally, both the creative and environment-related publications featured the effort (AdAge Editor’s Pick of the Day, Yahoo News, Sustainable Brands, Campaign Brief Asia and Fast Co.Create to name a few), and from it the brand received roughly 13M impressions.

The noise it created internationally earned the brand a seat in last year’s annual conference for sustainability. It was featured in a conference amongst 400 advanced executives in Corporate Sustainability, Marketing, Brand Strategy and Product Innovation (mostly sustainability and marketing/brand) through Sustainability Brands in London. It was testament to how this small effort to save the Pasig River has inspired many the world over.

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