Cannes Lions

Virén Chair

TBWA, Helsinki / FORTUM / 2022

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Despite its reputation, plastic production is rising exponentially and only 3,36 % of it is recycled plastic. Moreover, of all plastic waste produced, just 14 % get recycled globally. With the brand purpose of driving the change for a cleaner world, energy company Fortum saw the need to showcase its innovative material Fortum Circo recycled plastics – a robust, multi-usable, and innovative material made entirely from post-consumer plastic waste.

Our objective was to show Circo as a viable, durable and versatile raw material for furniture manufacturers and designers – drawing attention to a sustainable alternative that can help them decarbonise and lower their environmental impact on a large scale, while expanding Fortum into a completely new business category.


To show the full potential of Circo we needed to create a never-before-seen way of marketing a raw material. Instead of a basic demo, we designed a product that tells a story. Using Fortum Circo®, we created The Virén Chair, a chair that always picks itself up if it falls, using nothing but motion and its own design. Inspired by Finnish runner Lasse Virén, who fell in the 10,000m final of 1972 Olympics, but got up, won gold, and even set a new world record - the chair literally stands up for recycled plastics, demonstrating the versatility, quality and durability of Fortum Circo.


Tackling the issue of low usage of recycled plastics and penetrating into a well established market with big players, would be a massive task for Fortum and Circo, with zero brand recognition and a small budget. This is why we needed to choose our target audience and marketing efforts wisely.

The global market for plastic furniture is growing rapidly, while at the same time consumers wish for more and more environmentally friendly products. We saw the sector as a perfect opportunity for us to break into and through its influence, grow Circo’s visibility even wider. Recycled plastics have typically been used in simple products, but a self-rising chair with a beautiful design and a story to boot, would be something the industry hasn’t seen.


??In a 1,5-year-process the Virén chair was created in collaboration with engineers, researchers, and physicists to self-rise completely without robotics, using nothing but motion and its own design. The self-rising functionality of the Virén chair is based on CAD simulations: the weight geometry and the raising arm shape are all iterated in the design process to force the chair to raise after it falls – the key being the location of the center of gravity point in relation to the chair geometry.

To raise wider awareness the chair was launched through PR in industry specific media and outlets. Digital and social campaigns were crafted to target key influencers and decision makers in relevant channels. The campaigning will run throughout 2022 and 2023 consisting of wide ranging sales demonstrations, exhibitions, brand activations and out of home takeovers.


So far the Viren chair has succeeded in its primary objective of sparking the interest of the target audiences, yielding dozens of new contacts from furniture manufacturers and designers since the launch. The targeted social and PR launch reached 14,9 million people, increasing affinity not only inside the company but also among investors, partners and key stakeholders. The Virén chair enabled Fortum to successfully expand its business to an entirely new category, and due to it, Circo is now in the process of being adopted by one of Finland’s biggest furniture manufacturers, Isku.

Getting designers and furniture manufacturers to use Circo in their production is a big step in increasing the use of recycled plastics, and making more industries to see plastic not as potential waste, but wasted potential.

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