Recently, American brewing giant Coors has increased its efforts to communicate the redoubling of their sustainability commitments. The brewing company has promised to move away from unsustainable packaging - which means getting rid of those tough plastic rings that are synonymous with an ice-cold six-pack of Coors Light, as well as any other packaging that is made from plastic.
Taking a more holistic approach to the issue of single-use plastics in the grocery shopping experience, Coors partnered with creative agency Droga5 to highlight just how many aspects of going on a beer-run to the bodega or doing your weekly food shop involves buying and using plastic - from the plastic carrier bags, to the ink and pen you used to write your shopping list. The campaign involved creating a physical store in New York which was entirely plastic-free - a ‘Future Mart’ which New Yorkers could experience and envision a sustainable, and attainable, future. And yes, there was even a plastic-free bodega cat.
The store had over a hundred ‘products’ on display, all created by the Droga5 team of art directors and copywriters and designed by local New Yorker artists to give the store an authentic bodega feel. The pop-up also offered Coors merchandise giveaways and provided an opportunity for the ‘customers’ to share a glimpse of the plastic-free future on socials, spread Coors’ sustainability messaging and, of course, have a beer.
LBB’s Ben Conway spoke with Droga5 creative directors Bernardo González and Hope Jordan about how the ‘Future Mart’ came into existence, the difficulties of avoiding products containing plastic and balancing the sustainability messaging with an authentic New York experience.
LBB> Where did the initial creative spark for the campaign come from?
Bernardo> It started with the thought that when you buy a six pack at your local bodega you don’t only get plastic packaging, but you also get a plastic bag and sometimes even a handful of plastic straws (who drinks beer with a straw?!). That got us thinking, what if buying beer didn’t mean buying plastic. What if buying anything, for that matter, didn’t mean buying plastic. That sparked the idea to create a store that sold everything but plastic.
Hope> Coors asked us to come up with a big, attention-grabbing way to communicate their commitment to move away from plastic packaging. Their appetite to let the world know about their sustainability efforts is enormous, and we already have some exciting projects brewing beyond the Future Mart.
LBB> How was the idea developed into opening an entire plastic-free mini-mart in NYC?
Bernardo> We wanted to communicate something as ethereal as a plastic-free future in a real, tangible way. That’s why we created a physical space where people could commune with plastic-free products that are usually plastic-full. And help them understand that a plastic-free future is within our reach.
LBB> How many different products were created for the mini-mart? What are some of your favourites? Could the public buy any products? What did they react the best to?
Hope> We created more than a hundred different deli items with their own packaging and catchy names. The copywriters had a ton of fun naming products with names like Coorsatelli pasta, and the art directors/designers had a ton of room to play, combining the Coors Light and deli worlds. The space was treated like a plastic-free future museum, everything was mostly props with the exception of giveaways like Coors Light scented air fresheners. Needless to say, this was all great content for guests to take pictures and bring our sustainability message to their IG feeds. Oh, and my personal favourite was the felt bodega cat.
LBB> Who did you work with for the graphic design for the products and posters/interior etc? What was the creative process for the visual designs like? Where did you take inspiration from?
Bernardo> We wanted our Future Mart to have the real feel and charm of New York City bodegas. So we partnered with legit local artists and sign painters: Peter Paid, Noble Signs, and Dirty Bandits to imagine sustainable, plastic-free versions of all essential deli items as well as the design and feel of the mini-mart itself. Including everything from indoor posters, wild postings, and outdoor graffiti. It was an absolute joy working with them.
LBB> How did you make sure the campaign was sustainable? And why was this an important aspect?
Hope> Sustainability was at the core of everything we did. Of course, all our deli items as the space itself were made with 100% sustainable materials, including a fibre made from brewery waste. Also, we planted 100 trees to offset the props’ packaging generation and donated the fridges to local charities.
LBB> What did you want people to take away from the event? And how did they actually respond on the day?
Bernardo> We treated the store as a living museum of sorts so that people could reflect on their everyday relationship with plastic, learn about Coors Light’s sustainability efforts, and understand that a plastic-less future is closer than they imagined. The response was great, over 900 people flocked from all over NYC to visit the store, take some selfies and have a beer, or two.
LBB> How did you give the future mart, and overall campaign, an authentic NYC bodega feeling/appearance?
Hope> We started with hiring legit local artists that work directly with small businesses like delis across Brooklyn. We knew that, in and of itself, would bring the authenticity. And our brief to them was to make a space that felt like a living and breathing NYC bodega. We think the artists we hired, like Noble Signs who did our awning and some of the interior, helped the space feel like another joint in the neighbourhood but they also made it crafted and cool-looking enough to stand out.
LBB> What was the hardest challenge you faced on this campaign, and how did you overcome it?
Bernardo> We did not realise just how much plastic there was to deal with. Making a goal of creating an entirely sustainable space did not seem like a significant undertaking. But it was! There’s so much plastic and non-recyclable material used in daily life. You don’t think of things like awnings as plastic, but vinyl is plastic (we ended up going with a strong canvas material). And you don’t think of things like pen ink and paint as plastic, but it is! So I would say the most difficult task was having to constantly question the materials we were using and pivoting when the default was almost always plastic.
LBB> Anything else to add?
Hope> A huge, huge team of very talented people helped put this thing together. Thank you to all who worked on it, kept us real and made this thing real.