Hefty is making a seemingly unlikely sustainability play with a campaign from new shop Periscope, Minneapolis, highlighting impact from an initiative through which the brand is helping people in select cities recycle hard-to-recycle plastics like snack bags, cutlery and toothpaste tubes.
The digital and social-media campaign is the first work for Hefty from Periscope, which won the assignment following a review last summer. Periscope has other work on tap, but Havas Chicago also continues to handle the brand, according to Lisa Burns, senior vice president of marketing for Hefty Waste and Storage, a unit of Reynolds Consumer Products.
The new campaign includes 15- and 6-second digital spots, with vertical versions for Instagram and Snapchat, featuring “World’s Strongest Man” Martins Licis pulling a passenger plane, five of which equal the 300 tons of hard-to-recycle plastics the Hefty EnergyBag program has helped recycle to date.
It’s a lot of stuff for an effort currently serving only 500,000 households in 13 communities, including Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska; Boise, Idaho; and Cobb County, Georgia. The program uses specially marked Hefty EnergyBags that people buy and stuff with hard-to-recycle plastics to put in recycling bins.
The flexible plastic waste is then used for such things as fuel to fire cement kilns, or ingredients added to concrete, wax products, diesel fuels, paving material, deck planks and Adirondack chairs. But Hefty is only expanding EnergyBags to places with manufacturers nearby that can use the materials, Burns says.
In talking to consumers, she says Hefty found “they were giving us credit on the base business because we were working on the recycling initiative,” including people outside markets where the EnergyBags are available.
Since this is a national campaign, Hefty wanted to focus on what it has accomplished rather than detail how the program works, which would be irrelevant to people who couldn’t participate.
“We wanted to get the word out to the broader market that there was work being done, a glimmer of hope that there are now a million pounds of essentially unrecyclable plastics that have been diverted from landfills,” Burns says.
“It was a very challenging brief in that we want to explain the program, but we don’t want to talk about it. Not having a program available to the balance of the country was a very tight constraint. And [Periscope] came at it with a variety of very creative ideas that were consistent with Hefty and the humor we bring to the brand.”
Plans for eliminating or recycling single-use plastics have taken the packaged-goods industry by storm in recent months. But Hefty might seem the unlikeliest candidate to participate, since its whole business is built around plastic bags designed to be thrown away.
“I don’t think people would be thinking a trash bag company would be doing sustainability, would be thinking about the future,” says Heath Pochucha, executive creative director of Periscope. “To me it was exciting that Hefty was getting out and starting a really interesting program that has the infrastructure to grow larger."