Behind The Work: Sony Recycle Project Jeans

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Last Fall, Sony teamed with Hakuhodo Kettle to come up with Recycle Project Jeans, an integrated campaign that advanced the art of upcycling. In recent years, we've seen marketers give a second life to billboards by turning them into bags. Sony, however, leveled up in the billboard game and transformed a set of real life tarp ads into one-of-a-kind jeans.

The clothing, however, never found its way to retail outlets. Rather, the jeans were placed back where they first hung, on the side of the Sony Building in Tokyo.There, shoppers could browse the whole collection and guys decked out in mountain climbing gear scaled the walls to bring them the pair of their choice. The profits from the sale were enough to cover the cost of the campaign, but Sony kept the recycling going by donating the money to restoring world landmarks.

Hakuhodo Kettle's co-CEO/CD Kentaro Kimura gave Creativity more background on the project.

What inspired you to do this recycling project? We've seen the upcycling of billboards done in Brazil and the States, into products like bags, but what inspired you to do jeans?
As you pointed out, re-using billboards' material for something else may not necessarily be a fresh idea, since it has been pretty popular in Japan as well. We also believed that typical "eco goods," such as the eco-friendly shopping bags, would not be so attractive even if it was made by Sony.

What actually inspired us was AIBO, the "pet dog" by Sony—something completely never-before-seen, cool and exciting. Most of all, it is something that would make us proud for owning a Sony product and really love the brand. While thinking about such products, "jeans" came into mind. What if Sony made jeans?

Also, another inspiration was vegetables and sushi. We realized that vegetables always tasted better at farms and sushi always tasted at fishing ports, both at the places of origin. We used this notion of "Farm Fresh" for the communication concept and came up with the Wall Sale. The best place to sell these jeans would be their place of origin, where the ad originally ran.

Through this communication, we transformed an outdoor advertising medium into a point of purchase, along with transforming a disposable advertising creative into a valuable product.

Were the billboards specially created specifically for the jeans project, or did you come up with the idea after the fact?
No, the idea of creating JEANS was born after those four billboards were put on the wall, so the ads were not made for this project. So the fabric of JEANS is normally used for the billboards. In other words, we recycled them after their original mission to convey the message of Sony products.

How long did it take for the jeans to sell out?
1.5 months, from the 24th of September to the middle of November.

Does Sony have any plans to continue with the recycling idea for its future campaigns?
The next project is proceeding, but we can't say anything about it at this moment, sorry.

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