De-branding the Olympics

Vancouver-based start-up De-brand is cleaning up campaigns after the Games.


De-brand, a Vancouver-based start-up, is helping to clean up after the Olympic Games. After 17 days of sports, celebration and corporate sponsorships that involved everything from signage to creating brand new venues, it’s a messy job but someone’s got to do it.

‘The idea is to offer clients an alternative to simply tossing these items in a landfill,’ says Amelia Ufford, co-founder of De-brand, who explains that the company was born out of the fact that some corporations stored materials after a campaign until they felt less guilty about throwing it away, or they simply wouldn’t know where it went. Ufford and her business partner Wes Baker, who both have marketing backgrounds, created the company two years ago to encourage environmental responsibility in the industry.

De-brand consults with companies ahead of projects or campaigns to determine best practices, and then removes indentifiable marks or logos and allocates the left-over materials – plastics, wood, metal, electronics, etc. – by working with partners who will recycle, reuse and repurpose it. In some cases, they’ve even sold materials, such as hand-held data collection devices, getting money back for the company.

For Vancouver House, the city’s hosting centre during the Games, De-brand worked with them months prior to give recommendations on how to reduce waste so that when it came time to de-brand, they weren’t left with much that wasn’t recyclable. They also did consulting for Live Nation, which was hired by the city to host live venues where sponsors set up pavilions.

De-brand also worked with Nestle’s Powerbar, official suppliers to Hockey Canada, consulting on the design of their hospitality suite for athletes and then de-branding it once the games were over. Ufford notes that the result was just one small garbage bag, the rest of the materials were recycled or repurposed.

While the post-Games clean-up is keeping De-brand busy, they’ve also worked with several non-Olympic clients such as the Pacific National Exhibition, the World Police and Fire Games, and agencies like Wasserman and Partners, Inventa and

‘We don’t want to stifle creativity in the marketing industry,’ says Ufford. ‘We just want them to realize that…what we produce has an impact.’