Chilly's wants to distance itself from 'the plastic problem'

As the brand launches a festive campaign, co-founders say they want to use humour instead of drilling into consumes 'how bad the plastic problem is'.

Chilly's: out-of-home activity is part of wider campaign
Chilly's: out-of-home activity is part of wider campaign

There may be a war on single-use plastics, but reusable-bottle brand Chilly’s co-founders, James Butterfield and Tim Bouscarle, want consumers to view the brand "as a sustainable message in itself".

With an aim to provide people with "the ability to always have cold water on the go, without having to buy single-use plastic water bottles", Butterfield and Bouscarle created Chilly’s in 2010.

Nearly a decade later, Chilly’s was named number one on The Sunday Times' Fast Track 100 list of fast-growing private companies, beating the likes of BrewDog, Gymshark and Honest, with sales of £31.5m this year alone.

However, Chilly’s festive ad campaign, "Gift responsibly", which launched earlier this month, is a far cry from the eco-savvy work of SodaStream and competitor brand S’well, which revamped its marketing tactics in an attempt to promote "responsible consumerism".

Created by Uncommon Creative Studio – the agency’s first work for the brand since winning the account last month – the TV spot details one man’s over-the-top mission to impress his girlfriend’s dad with a Christmas present, ending with the prospective son-in-law personalising a Chilly's bottle to read "sorry". It was directed by Aaron Stoller through Biscuit Filmworks. 

The ad was launched alongside a series of print, out-of-home and social executions that show unwelcome gifts – such as a cake made using breastmilk and an ASMR mixtape of someone crying in the bathroom – beside the simpler, sustainably sound gift of a Chilly’s bottle.

"We're a reusable water bottle company, but we don't feel that we need to drum that into people," Butterfield told Campaign.

Butterfield argued that it is the role of the media to highlight the damage caused by single-use plastics, with shows such as Blue Planet II at the forefront of promoting environmental sustainability.

He continued: "We could have done an ad saying 'X amount of plastic bottles end up in the ocean per year', but we're not a brand that preaches to people.

"We're a brand that wants to be the solution and would rather people saw our products as a sustainable message in itself."

Butterfueld, who is Chilly’s managing director, said that although certain brands are "very well-placed" to provide solutions that the government may not be able to offer, it is not their responsibility to raise awareness of issues such as sustainability.

Bouscarle, who's director, added: "We've got an amazing community of customers who already love our brand and perhaps that is because we haven't drilled into them how bad the plastic problem is." 

For anyone wondering just how bad the "plastic problem" is: according to Surfers Against Sewage, there are roughly 51 trillion microscopic pieces of plastic in our oceans, weighing 269,000 tonnes (or 1,345 adult blue whales, if you’re keen for a nautical comparison).

With 25 December on the horizon, the problem is only set to worsen. According to a survey by Fly Research for Sky Ocean Rescue, 84% of Brits are concerned about the amount of plastic packaging on gifts, while 22% maintained there was too much waste to be recycled over the festive season. 

Bouscarle continued: "The sustainability issue is quite a serious one, but it seemed like a bit of humour was a really good way to approach it, while hopefully yielding the same results at the end.

"Hopefully, anyone who watches this ad will get a feel for what we're about – not taking ourselves too seriously all the time. We're quite happy to have a bit of fun with the idea and give people something that they haven't seen before."

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