Dole’s pineapple leather substitute takes Creative Business Transformation Grand Prix

Piñatex made $100 million for the brand and helped the planet, too

Published On
Jun 23, 2022

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Dole’s Piñatex, a leather substitute made from pineapple skin, won the Grand Prix for Creative Business Transformation at Cannes Lions.

One of the largest producers of pineapples in the world, Dole Sunshine Company, partnered with startup Ananas Anam to produce Piñatex, a vegan, sustainable leather alternative made from the fiber of pineapple leaves from farmers in the Philippines that would otherwise go to waste. The campaign, led by creative agency L&C New York, offered an eco-friendly option to the fashion industry, with major fashion brands including Hugo Boss, H&M and Nike signing up to use the material. 

According to Jury President Ronald Ng, global chief creative officer at MRM, the campaign was a “brilliant idea” and an amazing example of creative business transformation. The jury conducted extra research in which it saw that Dole has made $100 million in revenue from the venture, and Piñatex is now used by over 1,000 brands globally.

“What really worked for us here is this is a perfect example of a business transforming itself in such a creative way, really connecting the dots," said Ng. "Looking at the problem, asking how we can solve it, how we can make it scale up and who are the stakeholders who can benefit from this?"

"One thing really powerful in this was the idea of waste,” he added. “Reaching out to Ananas Anam. Making the product better and then going to a thousand brands who are using this product. Everyone is a winner here, the original start-up, Dole, the farmers and ultimately the planet.”

According to Ng, there was a robust debate about the shortlist but the result was unanimous. To qualify for silver, gold and the Grand Prix, the jury was looking for elements including bravery and whether the brand broke convention in the way it transformed its organization; the complexity of the project; the magnitude of the transformation and its longevity. But it was also looking for execution and "elegance" in the craft, he said. "You can transform, but if you transform with elegance it takes it to the next level."

The jury awarded just one Gold Lion in the category, to Southern California Edison's "The Prevention Grid" by Deloitte Digital, an initiative designed to prevent wildfires in California using drones and machine learning to anticipate risks. Ng said neither the Grand Prix or Gold winners had been seen as frontrunners early in the debate but rose to the top after discussions.

"We asked if the Grand Prix was timeless," he said, "and we told ourselves yes."