In April, the European parliament changed an antiquated law that outlawed farmers from growing 97% of the world’s seed varieties because they weren’t listed in the an official catalog of species authorized for commercial sale or cultivation. That movement was spearheaded by Carrefour, a major grocer, which set up a “black supermarket” display inside its stores to highlight all the flavors and biodiversity that was being missed. As a result, participating grocery stores sold a reported 70 tons of produce, while 85,000 people signed a petition to change the rules.
A few months earlier, the tiny Pacific island nation of Palau, which sees eight times the local population visit annually as tourists, unveiled the “Palau Pledge,” or vow that gets stamped on passports for all visitors to sign before being allowed to enter the country. The promise to “tread lightly, act kindly, and explore mindfully” will reach an estimated 2 million people over the next 10 years.
Both campaigns are aimed at making real social and environmental change. The agencies behind them–Host/Havas for the Palau Legacy Project, and Marcel for Carrefour–took home the top honors from D&AD, a British charity that promotes excellence in design and advertising at its 2018 D&AD Impact Awards last night. “The kind of projects we wish to honor are business ideas, campaigns, and designs that obey this philosophy of doing well by doing good,” says Tim Lindsay, CEO of D&AD. “In other words, they may very well be commercial projects–although not all of them are–but they seek to make the world a better place in doing business.”
All told, D&AD awarded 76 awards to various ad agencies, design studios, startups, and social entrepreneurs that generated campaigns or concepts aimed at harnessing business as a force for greater good. Entrants submitted across 12 categories loosely aligned with the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals. Judges included IBM’s global chief creative officer William Seabrook, and Warby Parker’s CEO Neil Blumenthal. You can view all of the winners in each category here.
In the case of the Carrefour campaign, it involved a commitment from the stores to not just reportedly sell 600 different varieties of produce, but also to support the growers behind that. As the video below shows, the company offered a five-year commitment to buy from farmers willing to violate the current laws, at the risk of heavy fines.
As for Palau, the pledge was backed up by lots of additional messaging through a related web campaign, an in-flight film that passengers see on the arriving flight, and lots of signage discouraging polluting and harming wildlife–with real penalties attached:
Among other honors, D&AD also awarded a new $20,000 award for work that seems both immediately promising and ready to scale. The recipients were DDB Mudra Group and Prerana Anti-Trafficking, a nonprofit that works to help sex workers in India escape. Their effort, called Project Free Period and commissioned by Johnson & Johnson’s Stayfree line of feminine hygiene products, involves offering three-day vocational training sessions to those women during the only time they have off–the days when they have their periods.