Corona cleans up the St. Lawrence with a billboard

The ad also serves as another visual reminder from the brand of Canadians' role in contributing to ocean plastics.
Corona has launched a floating billboard in the St. Lawrence River that gathers plastic waste from the waterway. Courtesy Corona Canada

Corona Canada is taking the next step in its sustainability efforts by erecting a billboard that collects plastic waste from the St. Lawrence River.

The billboard, which has a skimmer along the bottom that collects both solid and liquid waste – such as biomass, plastic bottles, cigare5t3 butts, and more – is floating on the waterway in Boucherville, Que. until Oct. 19. It is the latest sustainability effort from a beverage brand that has been working to reduce plastic waste in Canada’s waterways and on its shorelines for more than five years. As with past efforts – such as placing mannequins made of recovered plastics on some of Canada’s beaches – this is a highly-visible effort that is designed as much to generate discussion and call Canadians to action as it is to collect plastic waste on its own.

“Since one-fifth of the world’s freshwater resources are located in Canada, the goal of the Plastic Collecting Billboard is to act as a symbol to raise awareness of the pollution rivers endure – ultimately flowing into the ocean – and to reinforce Corona’s commitment to helping remove waste from our shorelines and waterways,” said Mike Bascom, the brand’s senior marketing director at parent company Labatt. “Corona is invested in helping to protect Canada’s natural environment, which is why we continue to launch initiatives – like the Plastic Collecting Billboard – to help educate and encourage Canadians to take action to reduce their plastic pollution.”

Though the billboard may be the most visible of the brand’s efforts, it coincides with the launch of a new program, created under advisement from Ocean Wise, that the brand calls the Corona Plastic Challenge. To participate in the challenge, Canadians are directed to a special microsite where they can access tools to discover and understand the impacts of their own plastic pollution footprints on Canadian waterways and shorelines, as well as find some tips that can help them reduce their single plastic use.

Getting more data about plastic waste is also a big part of the new campaign: working with Ocean Wise, the billboard will help give the organization a clearer idea of how much plastic waste flows through the St. Lawrence.

It’s a big move by a brand that, since 2017, has helped to clean millions of square metres of Canadian shorelines, including more than 5 million square metres of Canadian rivers and ocean shorelines last year alone, Bascom says. Corona was also the first beverage brand internationally to achieve a net zero plastic footprint, meaning it recovers more plastics from the environment than it produces – a goal it achieved, in no small part, through the introduction of recyclable cardboard packaging.

The brand is also active with sustainability initiatives elsewhere in the world, Bascom notes. It has launched river interception programs – grander in scale, but with similar intent to this effort in the St. Lawrence – in both Indonesia and Ecuador, and is in the process of building the infrastructure to do the same in Guatemala next year. In Indonesia, meanwhile, it is working with local partner Sungai Watch to help clean up 20 rivers. All of this ladders up to a corporate goal to reduce plastic waste levels in the world’s oceans, as 80% of ocean plastics originate from the world’s rivers, globally, according to statistics Corona cites from Science Advances.

But its efforts in Canada are especially important because it is home to one fifth of the world’s freshwater resources. As such, according to Bascom, “we have a platform where we can invest resources and initiatives to help educate and encourage Canadians to reduce their plastic pollution.”

Labatt worked with its regular agency team on the campaign: Anomaly on creative, Dentsu on media and Veritas on PR.

Photo courtesy Corona Canada