In Spain, Carrefour Equates Plastic Bags With Excrement

Supermarket's Not-So-Delicate Campaign Calls Attention to Bags' Massive Waste

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Carrefour Spain has joined the green movement with a campaign that equates plastic bags to excrement. The concept is straightforward, simple and easy to remember: "Plastic bags = shit."

It's the first supermarket in Spain to join the ecological movement. The campaign, created by Publicis Madrid, surprised the audience by using an unexpected tone, deeply different from the one brands usually use when referring to these delicate matters. Publicis' chief creative officer, Santiago Lucero, explained that they decided to "simply say plastic bags are shit, just like you tell your kids when you want them not to touch something toxic or dangerous."

The first part of the campaign consisted of a four-day period of teaser spots, with an anonymous message reading: "Plastic bags take 400 years to decompose. Shit = bags. 400 years. 400 shits. We must do something." The films invited the audience to visit a website called Give the Environment a Hand.

Later, they aired other commercials showing the Carrefour logo and phrases such as "A 15-minute use and 400 years to decompose. It's just not worth it."

The supermarket also suggested replacing plastic bags with a different kind of material, such as raffia, cotton or biodegradable starching.

Carrefour is heading down a path that will soon become the only choice for stores and supermarkets. Last year, the Spanish government approved the Plan Nacional Integrado de Residuos, or National Integrated Plan of Waste Materials, a set of rules aimed to restrict and eventually ban the use of plastic bags by 2015. Spain is the third-largest consumer of plastic bags in Europe. Spaniards uses an average of 238 bags per year and supermarkets are a big provider. Only 10% of the bags are recycled.

Spain hasn't been the only country to take up the issue. There were at least two anti-bag campaigns in Latin America, only they use a different approach and a much softer tone. Last March, Argentine agency Kepel & Mata made a spot called "Revenge" for Chilean Cencosud Group, owner of Jumbo, Disco and Vea. They went for an emotional tone, using a 3-D animated story.

Last month, the Brazilian Social-Environmental Plastic Institute invested almost $4 million on an integrated campaign created by Washington Olivetto's W/ agency, focused on the "three Rs concept": Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Seventy percent of the Brazilian population prefers plastic bags, and instead of forbidding them, they chose to educate people in order to get them to behave responsibly.

The government implemented a program that, among other measures, includes the promotion of a more-resistant kind of bag that will stop people from using two bags instead of one to carry heavy stuff and will still be durable enough to be used again at home.

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