Campaign: Environment - GreenBottle offers alternative to landfill

Campaign: National launch of GreenBottle
Client: GreenBottle
PR team: Commucan
Timescale: January-February 2011
Budget: Less than £10,000

GreenBottle was created in 2006 by Suffolk inventor Martin Myerscough to prevent thousands of tonnes of plastic milk bottles being dumped in landfill. His idea was to make the world's first paper milk bottle out of recyclable paper, with a plastic bag inside to hold the milk. He had made a conscious decision not to promote the product while it was being piloted in Asda stores in East Anglia. But when it expanded into outlets in Cornwall and Devon, Myerscough wanted to tell the story to a wider audience, raise awareness and drive sales. Commucan was retained to handle PR ahead of the national launch on 5 February.


- To build buzz ahead of the launch of the world's first paper milk bottle

- To drive visitors to the launch weekend in St Austell

- To boost in-store sales of GreenBottle.


Commucan recommended highlighting several striking facts. The UK uses 15 million plastic milk bottles a day, with the vast majority ending up in landfill sites. Plastic also takes up to 500 years to decompose compared with just a few weeks for GreenBottle.

The agency built interest among influencers by briefing relevant opinion formers - environmental journalists and editors, columnists, politicians, NGOs and other groups. Commucan felt it was important to get the bottle in people's hands, so it hand-delivered them to these influencers. The paper bottle had an FAQ inside, with a gift tag inviting people to 'open the bottle to discover a great story'.

To influence national broadcast planning desks, Commucan secured a page lead in The Observer on the forthcoming launch in the knowledge it would also generate Guardian online content that could be picked up by bloggers and tweeters.

This led to BBC Breakfast going big on the story, with four appearances on the programme - two 30-second teasers and two live three-minute slots. All appearances showed the presenters holding the GreenBottle, with supportive comments from the recycling body WRAP.


Pre-launch coverage appeared in The Observer and BBC Breakfast, as well as in Metro, i and on the online versions of The Guardian, Daily Mail, and The Independent. Launch coverage included an interview with Myerscough on BBC 5 Live Breakfast, as well as trade and local radio and TV. It also inspired several blogs including from Wired magazine and Treehugger, as well as 320 tweets and posts from around the world. Social media sentiment for GreenBottle, measured by Social Mention, was 7:1 positive. Even Yoko Ono started following the GreenBottle Twitter feed and Facebook membership doubled.


On the launch day in St Austell, a week's worth of GreenBottle milk (420) sold out in just five hours. Sales of GreenBottle across all stores increased by more than 200 per cent and in some by almost 300 per cent. The campaign also generated significant new business leads.


It is a fact that if you stay in the PR business long enough, you see things come full circle.

During the early 1990s, I orchestrated the PR campaign to introduce plastic 'polybottles' to the UK milk market.

This resulted in the demise of glass milk bottles amid much acrimony over the 'death of the doorstop delivery'.

Well, plastic has had a good run and now 18 years later I am asked to review the campaign ultimately designed to end the reign of the polybottle as the packaging of choice for milk.

Commucan had a great story to tell for its client GreenBottle. The agency warmed to the task by positioning the polybottle as a 'polluter' and got the environment-aware media on-side, as well as independent bodies such as WRAP.

The pre-launch coverage was good, with a wide range of influential media picking up the story and providing GreenBottle with a platform. Social media were neatly brought into play and received very positive analysis.

To really achieve 'game change'

of the sort its client requires, Commucan did particularly well to get BBC Breakfast on board - the coverage it received will have helped the campaign gain momentum.

The results show the campaign had a big effect in the South West and achieved impressive sales increases, albeit from a fairly small base.

Let us hope GreenBottle is successful. Meanwhile, I wonder if the glass lobby is thinking of re-entering the fray?

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