Hitachi claims the world's first 'zero carbon-powered' ad

Film director Sam Mendes narrates brand's environmental message ahead of COP26

Published On
Oct 06, 2021

Editor's Pick

Hitachi is sending an environmental message ahead of this month's COP26 climate summit—with what it's claiming to be the first "zero carbon-powered" ad. 

The spot promotes Hitachi's electric and battery transport products and is powered entirely by cyclists and a solar-powered generator, resulting in zero carbon emissions. Made by creative collective Mamapool, it was directed by Rattling Stick's Ivan Bird (director of photography on Guinness' classic "Surfer" ad) and narrated by Oscar-winning film director Sam Mendes. 

The film is set on a beach at night and opens in the dark. "Films always try to make a big impact," says Mendes' voiceover. "This one made none at all."

In the low light, a cyclist approaches her bike and starts to pedal. The harder she pedals, the more the lights rise, slowly revealing two more cyclists. Finally, a connected projector lights up the cliff behind, showing a Hitachi battery train and then Hitachi's other battery or electric transport options. As the cyclists stop pedaling the lights again fade, and we end on the message that the film was powered by zero carbon emissions.

The ad was filmed on a beach in Kent, England, and according to Bird, it presented some production challenges. "We generated every single watt of power on set, which was key to the integrity of the film," he said in a statement. "It wasn’t easy as we were dealing with very low levels of power; the projector had seven cyclists (three on camera, four off) creating the power, so it couldn’t be Leicester Square levels of luminance. We considered a studio. It would have made our lives considerably easier, but we thought it was important for the message that we were in the environment we were trying to protect.”

Hans Daems, marketing director, Hitachi Europe added that Hitachi "wanted to create something meaningful which not only inspires others but also highlights just some of what is needed to help achieve a low-carbon future."

"At Hitachi we have actively oriented our business towards the sustainable technology of the future, in order to become a climate change innovator and help governments, cities and our customers cut carbon," he said. "Transport is a critical part of that, and making this film firmly underlined what can be done, but also how much work there still is to do. We were absolutely committed to making a zero-carbon film and the collaboration needed to achieve this—from absolutely everyone on set to suppliers and the teams behind the scenes was incredible.”

Sam Mendes added in a statement: “I’m proud that '1917' was the first carbon-neutral film made in the U.K. However, carbon emissions generated from feature film production and distribution remain substantial, so the opportunity to get involved in a project aiming for zero carbon emissions was one I wanted to support."


Oct 06, 2021
Client :
Agency :
Hitachi Marketing Team :
Hans Daems
Hitachi Marketing Team :
Simon Crouch
Hitachi Marketing Team :
Kelly Smith
Hitachi Marketing Team :
Mioka Suzuki
Hitachi Marketing Team :
Candida Cereda
Hitachi Marketing Team :
Helen Grundy
Hitachi Marketing Team :
Eleanor Middleweek
Hitachi Rail :
Kendra Ayling
Creative Director :
Jason Mendes
Creative Director :
Richard Russell
Creative :
Joe Melvin
Creative :
Conor Hamill
Strategic Director :
Tom Pinsent
Production Company :
Rattling Stick
Director :
Ivan Bird
Ivan Bird
Exec Producer :
Johnnie Frankel
Producer :
Polly Du Plessis
Producer :
Josie Juneau
Production Manager :
Alice Winderler
Editor :
Vanessa Wood
Editor :
Marshall Street Editors
Music & Sound :
Nick Rapaccioli
Post Production :
VO Artist :
Sir Sam Mendes
Sound Studio :
Bark Soho
Sound Editor :
James Benn

Need a credit fix? Contact the Creativity Editors

Project Type