Undoubtedly, a lot of brands in this day and age care about gaining environmental credit. It looks good, it sounds cool when shared, and, supposedly, it’s beneficial for the planet.
The reason why ‘supposedly’ is so important, unfortunately, is because the operative word is ‘credit’. For far too many brands, presenting a positive face is more important than actually doing positive work, and this leads to a sea of greenwashing, in which actual environmentally-friendly brands can have a hard time standing out.
Take Australian wine producer Banrock Station, for instance. While the brand carries an immense history of supporting the environment – not just in Australia, but around the world – via a global environmental trust, and the commitment to plant 100,000 trees annually, this isn’t something that’s known to most people. In fact, most Canadians didn’t know much about the brand, period… until recently, that is.
To learn more, LBB’s Josh Neufeldt sat down with the team from BBR, including executive creative director Julie Markle, strategist Alec Pavlich, VP, client leadership Nadine Arsenault, creative director Bruce Harris, account supervisor Jonathan Cafarelli, and producer Casey Tanaka.
LBB> Standing out against a sea of greenwashing, and breaking an Australian wine into Canada is no small task! As such, what was the brief for this campaign, and what immediate ideas came to mind?
BBR> When it comes to eco creds, Banrock Station has them in spades. The Australian wine producer touts over 25 years of history supporting the environment in Australia, and around the world. The brand offers sustainably-produced vegan wine, runs a global environmental trust, and is committed to planting 100,000 trees annually.
As such, BBR’s task was to craft a locally-relevant campaign targeting young, environmentally conscious wine lovers, by highlighting Banrock Station’s CSR partnership with Tree Canada, the country’s only national non-profit tree planting organisation.
The challenge, however, was that we wouldn’t be the first brand to be planting trees with purchase. From toilet paper to other wine brands, it feels like everyone has promoted their commitment to planting trees in Canada at some point – usually by showing sunlit forests. So, with more greenwashing than ever, Canadians can be quick to tune out claims.
With no planned media dollars, we knew we had to approach our creative ideas differently. To this end, we sought to develop ideas that were relevant to our core target audience, and had the legs to generate some earned buzz and impressions. We ended up settling on the idea that ‘Anyone Can Be A Tree Planter’ as an inclusive brand platform. Because, even if you are not physically present in the forest replanting, your actions as a consumer can have positive consequences. As well, from the get-go, we knew partnering with suppliers and brands that walk the walk would help us reach our market on a tight budget.
LBB> Specifically, crossing the worlds of wine, fashion and the environment is not something you see every day! How did this idea come to pass, and what made it the right approach for the job?
BBR> Research indicates that only 29% of consumers know which wine brand they intend to purchase before they enter a store, and that 15% of consumers spend 10 seconds or less choosing their wine (Nielsen, 2017). Therefore, it was imperative that we built a brand connection with our consumers ahead of them entering the store. We knew our audiences cared deeply about the planet, but also about looking good, which led to ‘Tree Planter Chic’ – the marriage of our inclusive message and a sustainable fashion partnership.
LBB> Building on this, why was speaking to the demographic of young, ecologically-minded wine drinkers so important? What made them the ideal target to base a campaign around?
BBR> We know we are not the first to go after this customer group, but, in working with a lesser-known Australian wine producer, we felt it was important to get in front of the next generation of Canadian wine drinkers who are beginning to explore the space and develop their palates. Cultivating brand awareness with the generation set to inherit the Earth plants the seeds for a community of advocates who stand proudly in support of Banrock Station and Canadian forests.
LBB> Strategically, how does one plan for/start a creative endeavour such as this? Did you immediately contact a fashion brand to get the ball rolling?
BBR> We knew finding the right fashion partner was critical – one that was Canadian, had a like-minded, sustainable mission, and of course… that was fashionable. We explored several options and narrowed it down based on aligned values and audience. From there, it was good ol’ fashion cold-calling to gauge interest and identify key decision makers, landing a partner who would help push our vision forward.
LBB> And what made ecologyst the right partners for this campaign?
BBR> ecologyst was the perfect partner for this campaign because of its ethos on fashion sustainability in the Canadian market. Not only is it Canadian owned, the brand also manufactures all its clothing in Canada using sustainable materials – something we were able to utilise to create our custom five-panel hats.
Additionally, ecologyst, based on the West Coast, was looking for further exposure in Ontario, so this partnership was a natural win-win for Banrock Station and ecologyst.
LBB> What was the lookbook design process like? How did you collaborate to combine fashion and effectively showcase the impact of purchasing Banrock?
BBR> In the spirit of sustainability, the looks themselves featured a mix of sustainable elements: various ecologyst pieces (including our tree planter hats), enamel pins (made of recycled metal), and pre-loved clothing. Authentic tree planting bags were equally essential to each look, filled appropriately with saplings and, of course, chilled bottles of Banrock Station’s Pink Moscato.
Overall, the vision of our stylist, Marie-Eve Tremblay, was to glam up the tree-planter look, which is ordinarily less than fashionable. To do this, she made the ensembles distinct by focusing on a single colour, each balancing Banrock Station’s brand palette with current colour trends.
LBB> Tell us more about the merch! What was the creation process like, and do you have a personal favourite piece?
BBR> We wanted the merch to convey important, positive messages that – at the same time – look great. Naturally, this involved writing and rewriting many slogans to get the idea across succinctly, while still feeling playful.
Production-wise, working with ecologyst made the whole process easy. Its five-panel organic cotton hats could be customised in a plethora of colours, and the brand worked with us through the entire process, including timelines, design proofs, and even photos of our materials to ensure the vision was captured.
The enamel pins were also a lot of fun to design and we approached them almost how you would a logo. The catchy phrases were a great starting point for the illustrations, and we played with vibrant colours and custom shapes… Although in the end, everyone had their own favourite pin or hat, so we couldn’t possibly choose one over another!
LBB> The campaign also featured two major promotional popup events. How did these come to life?
BBR> We began our planning process by starting with the biggest question, ‘where?’. After careful consideration and a conversation with our partners, we landed on Stackt Market for the Ontario event, and ecologyst’s flagship store in Victoria for the BC event. In the case of the former, Stackt was the perfect fit because it is located in a bustling neighbourhood in downtown Toronto, whose demographic is perfectly aligned with our target audience. Meanwhile, with ecologyst’s established audience in BC and its role in the campaign, having them host on the West Coast only made sense!
From there, our producer worked with several vendors to bring our vision to life, always keeping sustainability as our priority by leveraging rentals and sustainable elements wherever possible.
LBB> What challenges have you faced during this project? How did you overcome them?
BBR> An ambitious idea with a challenging budget meant we had to be creative and nimble in how we executed this. As such, the following was super important:
- The stills shoot took place in the BBR agency office (to save on studio costs).
- Our art director created the forest floor element by hand, for the set (to save on a production designer/stylist).
- Our producer sourced props and some of the wardrobe
- The majority of the stills retouching was done by our in-house studio or by our art director
As for the secondary challenge, that was achieving the right balance/tone between the lighthearted nature of our creative, without making light of the hard work of professional tree planters.
LBB> What lessons have you learned from the making of this campaign?
BBR> There’s a lot to take away from this! For a start, we learned, or more specifically optimised how we work with non-traditional agency partners. More importantly, however, we were reminded that a small and scrappy budget doesn’t mean you have to compromise on creative vision, multiple partners will get you and your budget further – especially with a shared cause – and that with a little elbow grease, you can turn cardboard into a lush forest base for your stills shoot!
LBB> Since launch, how have people responded?
LBB> Finally, is there a photo in the lookbook that you’re especially fond of? (And has this campaign inspired you to buy Banrock?)
BBR> We love all our creations, don’t get us wrong, but everyone was especially drawn to the pink look. Maybe it’s because we all love shiny things like the jacket, or it could be the nostalgic, retro pattern in the base layer, but more likely, it’s because it reminds us of delicious Pink Moscato.
Speaking of which, many bottles of Pink Moscato and Unwooded Chardonnay have been consumed by BBR in the making of this campaign (for research purposes only, of course!). We all feel proud of Banrock Station’s commitment to the environment – and reforestation – across the world, and now in our own backyard. We are definitely inspired to buy more!