McDonald’s sustainability campaign is tray artistic

Who: McDonald’s, with Weber Shandwick for the concept and PR, Cossette for social video content, and OMD for paid media.

What: “The Last Straw,” a series of 15 original art works on McDonald’s restaurant trays made from plastic straws, part of the chain’s larger effort to become a more sustainable business.

When & Where: The campaign launched May 30, running for two weeks on the big social channels, supported by a PR push and a special landing site for the project.

Why: Late last year, McDonald’s switched from plastic to paper straws (as well as replacing plastic cutlery with wood). When the move was announced, McDonald’s said it would reduce its plastic consumption by 840 tons per year.

As a way to artfully illustrate its commitment to being less harmful to the environment, McDonald’s and Weber Shandwick came up with this idea to upcycle unused plastic straws.

“In the spirit of reducing waste being sent to landfill, we challenged ourselves to find an inventive and out-of-the-box way to give some of these plastic straws a ‘second act,’” said Gemma Pryor, senior director for McDonald’s Canada Impact Team. “Thanks to these artists, they can live on as something beautiful.”

How: McDonald’s worked with Kelowna-based company The Rogerie—which makes a range of household products out of reclaimed plastics—to turn unused plastic straws into the trays similar to the ones used for decades to serve McDonald’s dine-in customers. Those trays were then used as canvases for 15 different Canadian and Indigenous artists, who were asked provide a work inspired by their own perspective on sustainability and the environment.

The trays will be given to Ronald McDonald’s House locations across Canada, either to be put on display or auctioned off to raise money for the charity. There’s a video (below) that shows how The Rogerie actually melts down the straws and presses them into trays, as well as one-on-one interview videos with four of the artists.

The first, with Vancouver artist Tierney Milne, was posted on Monday. According to the McDonald’s caption, Milne wanted to work on the project because she believes that “it’s respectful when brands take initiative and attach creative energy to something that’s not consumption based.”

In the video, Milne explains how her goal for her illustration was to create “almost an ‘eye spy’ for people to meander, to look through. And hopefully this piece can spark hope in that it can add some joy to people’s days… the calming colours, like all these blues, they’ll just wash over you and hopefully give you a little slice of peace through that.”

David Brown