Vancouver brands will battle to develop the best zero-waste idea

On Earth Day next month, 25 teams of marketers from Vancouver-based brands will gather at Rocky Mountaineer Station to take part in a day-long “hack-a-thon” to develop new strategies for reducing waste in the city.

The “Brand Battle for Good” is being put on by Brands For Better, a not-for-profit group created with a goal of harnessing the Vancouver’s creative firepower to affect real, positive change for the city.

Led by two Vancouver marketers, Karla Peckett and Mike Baker of SOLE/ReCORK, and Scot Sustad, co-founder of Digital Hot Sauce, the event has been more than a year in the making.

There are a lot of brands that boast ethical and sustainable credentials, said Peckett, and the people who work there—the marketers, creators, innovators, and business minds—specialize in changing consumer behaviour.

“I reached out to Scot and said ‘What would happen if we called all the brands together?'” said Peckett, creative director for Sole/ReCORK. The idea, she said, was that they could meet in one spot to talk, share stories and “cross pollinate” ideas about how they could help the City move toward zero waste.

“This idea has obviously exploded since then. It’s gone through many, many iterations, but the goal remains the same. We have a lot of power in brands, and we have a lot of support from our community. What happens if we channel the energy of our brands to give back, and do good with what we do best—which is marketing and storytelling and strategizing.”

The Brand Battle will be a two-part event, with teams participating in the hack-a-thon on April 22. The top five teams will be chosen to take their idea and work it into a polished pitch—with the help of Vancouver ad agencies Rethink, 123 West, DDB and Pound & Grain—and deliver the pitch at another event June 11. The winning idea from that night will be worked up into a city-wide marketing campaign.

While the winning idea must be creative and original, feasibility, impact and degree of behavioural change are the most important judging criteria. “This is not an advertising contest,” says the BrandsForBetter website. “We are looking to spark real and measurable change in support of the City of Vancouver’s Zero Waste initiatives.”

The problem statement, which will be released a week before the hack-a-thon, will be developed to complement the city’s existing plans.

“The goal of this day isn’t for the brand to think about how to solve it as the brand,” said Peckett. “We’re having companies come together and focus on solutions for the consumer. We’re not asking a brand to repackage their product to be less wasteful. It’s more about how can we change consumer behaviour.”

The BFB team feels that too much of the messaging about sustainable behaviour is focused on making people feel guilty rather than inspiring them to change. “We know what we’re supposed to do, but we don’t always feel like we’re part of a movement that motivates us to do it,” explained Graham North, lead design strategist behind the Brand Battle for Good, in a release.

Originally launched by SOLE, ReCORK, Digital Hot Sauce, O2E Brands and Unbounce, other brands that got behind the effort early on include A&W, Native Shoes, Arc’teryx, Tentree, 1-800-Got Junk, Boom Goes the Drum, CreativeMornings, Cause + Affect and Noravera.

David Brown