The Challenge

It’s well-reported just how much of a negative impact that fast fashion has on the environment.  As one of the world’s most famous fashion brands, H&M has found itself under the spotlight.

If H&M is to achieve its ambitious goals around sustainability the business needs to become circular, minimising any garment’s drain on resources by enabling easy reuse, repair, and recycling.

With this in mind, H&M created the Circular Design Collection range, which was rolled out online and in key London stores in December 2021. Made to be loved, shared, repaired, and recycled. The range features innovative fabrics and techniques such as Resortecs®, a dissolvable sewing thread for attaching sequins and beads.

OOH has been central to H&M’s media mix. It plays an important role in reaching a fashion-conscious Gen Z audience. Just as it does for online fast fashion brands such as Boo Hoo and Missguided.

But the problem is, OOH has its own environmental issues.

Our Approach

The Brief

A single digital billboard may use as much energy as 37 UK homes. Then there are the 6 million square meters of poster paper the European OOH industry produces every 2 weeks.

We wanted to bring the ethos of the Circular Design Collection to life by reusing the materials used in our out-of-home activity, and what better way to reuse them than to turn them into part of the collection itself? A physical example of the power of reuse, which dramatized the difference in the product and brought new meaning to a zero-wastage media buy.

What we did

Having weighed up options we decided that the material used in vinyl wraps would be the best to work with.

Vinyl is incredibly hard wearing; it has the strength and lifespan required to re-work into something which could be worn or used over the longer term. It would also hold pattern and colour over its lifespan in all kinds of weather conditions.

Once the vinyl was printed, Pureti was applied, a transparent spray that can absorb pollution particles from the air – useful for both when the ad was on display and later being worn in its reused state as part of the collection.

We bought vinyl wraps in Shoreditch, Stratford, and Brixton. All were in areas of high footfall, close to stores containing the collection, and had a huge impact beyond the standard formats of competitors.

After being on display for 2 weeks the vinyls were taken down, carefully folded, and transported to Carradice of Nelson – a small outfit in the little town of Nelson, Lancashire, that since 1932 has specialized in manufacturing long-lasting, hardwearing cycle bags.

There, the giant pieces (each measuring 305 sqm) were cleaned, cut to size and re-stitched. From the other end of the process emerged 250 beautifully designed bags.

The bags were then delivered back to the store to form part of the collection, and given out to key fashion influencers.

Customers and influencers then carried a piece of our campaign with them. Retelling the story behind its creation and the message behind H&M’s latest collection of clothing.

The Results

The results smashed expectations on two fronts. Post-campaign brand tracking found an all-time high of 67% of women aware of H&M agreed that “sustainability is a core part of the brand.” In comparison, the average for this measure across the other 9 competitor brands tracked is just 17%. Secondly, the collection itself was a huge success, with some pieces selling out on the morning of the launch. The London stores quickly sold out completely. There was also a total of 625 million unique UK visits to the collection online during the launch month. The work received 59 pieces of press coverage, including 3 front covers.

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JD Williams





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