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2017 D&AD Impact Winners Showcase the Power of Creatives to Drive Big Change

Image credit: DB Export/D&AD Impact

From Visa’s recent Hurricane Harvey spot to Boost Mobile’s “Boost Your Voice” and Whirlpool’s “Care Counts” campaigns, advertising is undergoing a paradigm shift, with brands across industries increasingly moving towards purpose-driven messages that address some of the biggest environmental and social challenges the world faces today. Earlier this week, D&AD and Advertising Week announced the winners of the second annual D&AD Impact Awards, which recognizes creative ideas that have had a real impact and ultimately contribute towards a better, fairer and more sustainable future for all.

This year, 98 Pencils were awarded across 12 categories, which align with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Ideas were weighed against three main criteria — the level of originality and innovativeness of the campaign, evidence of its impact in its category and its relevance to the business’s commercial needs.

Here, we highlight some of our top picks from across the sustainability, responsible production and industry evolution categories.

Air Ink

Air pollution is quickly gaining momentum as one of the most critical issues facing urban areas today. Not only is it a significant contributor to climate change, but it also causes critical health problems for people across the globe. Graviky Labs developed Air Ink as a way to tackle the problem, transforming air pollution’s carbonaceous particulate matter into high-grade inks.

Earlier this year, Tiger Beer teamed up with the MIT spinoff to bring the ink to streets around the world. The partners collaborated with emerging artists to showcase the breakthrough technology around the world.

Return to Sender

Speaking of air pollution, Public Eye launched the Return to Sender campaign to draw attention to Swiss commodity traders selling dirty diesel in Africa with sulphur levels much higher than in Europe. The organization collected samples from eight countries and found the sulphur content to be close to 400 times higher than the European limit — in addition to higher levels of benzene and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. While the business model of these traders is legal, their actions are irresponsible and threaten the health of millions of Africans.

In addition to producing a report about the issue, the organization shot a short film in Ghana showing local people capturing the polluted air in plastic containers. Public Eye then sent the air back in a shipping cargo container and launched a petition demanding the commodity traders to stop the business. The petition received 20,000 signatures and resulted in five African nations — Ghana, Benin, Togo, Ivory Coast and Nigeria — toughening their national sulphur standards by a factor of 60.

DB Export Beer Bottle Sand

Following its 2015 “Brewtroleum” campaign, which saw leftover yeast from the brewing process transformed into clean-burning, conflict-free biofuel, DB Breweries and ad agency Colenso BBDO are back at it again, rolling out yet another campaign with sustainability and ingenuity at its core.

DB designed a fleet of machines that crush empty glass bottles of DB Export into a sand substitute that can be used for construction, pharmaceutical and other commercial purposes, thereby preserving New Zealand’s pristine beaches. The process is simple — a bottle is inserted into the machine, triggering a laser and a small steel hammer that spins at a rate of 2,800 rpm and pulverizes the bottle. A vacuum system removes silica dust and the bottle’s label, leaving behind 200 grams of sand substitute — all within a period of five seconds.

Hangar 1 Fog Point

Water is the key to making vodka, but in the midst of California’s severe droughts, local distiller Hangar 1 set out to discover an alternative water source for its signature libations — and agriculture as a whole. The answer: fog. The company worked with water conservation organizations across the San Francisco Bay Area to collect water via fog catchers, which is then blended with the distillate of drought-friendly wine. The product launched with a documentary film that told the product story and drove coverage through earned and social media.

Nebia Shower System

According to the Alliance for Water Efficiency, the average eight-minute shower in the US uses around 20 gallons of water. As droughts and water shortages become more prevalent, the need to reduce water consumption is increasingly becoming more obvious. San Francisco-based startup Nebia believes it has uncovered a solution. The company has developed a specialized shower nozzle that atomizes water into millions of tiny droplets, using in 70 percent less water than the standard nozzle, while the total surface area of Nebia droplets is ten times greater than the total surface area of those emitted by a conventional showerhead.

OzHarvest Market

Approximately 1.3 billion tons of food are wasted around the world each year, but one Australian startup is working to change that with a rescued-food supermarket. OzHarvest collects quality excess food from more than 2,000 commercial outlets — including supermarkets, catering companies, hotels, farms and wholesalers — and delivers it to more than 900 charities across Australia. The organization’s OzHarvest Market operates on a “take what you need, give what you can” model and aims to connect surplus food that would otherwise go to landfill with those in need, thereby tackling food insecurity and reducing food waste’s contribution to climate change.

Since its launch, the Market has helped feed around 200 people in need every day. The campaign video increased awareness with 7.8 million views, 192,000 shares and reached 22.1 million on Facebook. According to Facebook, the campaign was one of 2017’s most effective charity posts in Australia.


Over 1.1 billion people in the world have no access to electricity. Children in Brazil are exposed to drugs and violence in the darkness, and in many regions of Kenya people rely on kerosene lamps as their only source of light, which have serious implications for human health.

As part of its #makethefuture campaign, Shell launched an energy relay in four continents enabling entrepreneurs to 'shed light' on the problem. The solutions that emerged included Gravity Light’s gravity-powered lighting system, bio bean’s coffee and cooking oil waste-derived fuel and Pavegen's energy-producing floor tiles. The initiative attracted considerable attention, generating two billion impressions, 350 pieces of content and was the most viral and shared video of 2016.

Launched in 2006, Sustainable Brands has become a global learning, collaboration, and commerce community of forward-thinking business and brand strategy, marketing, innovation and sustainability professionals who are leading the way to a better future. We recognize that brands today have… [Read more about Sustainable Brands]

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