Branson-backed start up Bio-bean launches first campaign with £250k free ad space from JCDecaux

Wonderfuel ad campaign launches for Bio-bean

A start up that creates fuel from waste coffee has launched its first ad campaign after winning Richard Branson's Virgin Voom competition, which awarded it £250k of prime OOH space from JCDecaux.

Bio-bean was launched five years ago as an answer to the thousands of tonnes of waste coffee produced ever year. Counting high street giants like Costa and Leon, as well as hundreds of independent coffee shops among its partners, it takes used coffee granules and recycles them into a source of fuel.

Last year, it developed its first consumer-facing product ‘Coffee Logs’ which helped secure it the top spot in Virgin’s start up competition and £250k worth of advertising.

However, while it had ad space it lacked any semblance of a brand strategy. Tom Bage, head of marketing at bio-bean – and former Advertising Association exec – immediately hired Studio of Art & Commerce (Studio) “to join us in the trenches” and not only conceive a marketing campaign but help the brand nail a strategy that would see it out long after the prize fund was depleted.

“The business just hadn’t had the time and resource to think about what its brand should be. We’ve managed to sharpen a lot of the early fundamental thinking,” Bage said.

Among the first hurdles was figuring out exactly who the Bio-bean brand should be aimed at. Looking to tap into the broad market of “anyone with a stove or wood burner fire,” Studio abandoned attempts at segmenting by age and instead sought to appeal to what it dubbed ‘the flat white generation’.

“People who are more discerning, spend more time thinking about their decisions; people who like their coffee but want to know what happens after they drink it.”

The also had to distill some of the complexities of the bio-bean business. The home heating category is dominated by coal where marketing tends to focus on purely functional product benefits. Explaining the concept of a sustainable fuel source that comes simply from old coffee needed a touch more creativity.

“Coffee consumption has gone up. 55 million cups are drunk a day, producing half a million tons of waste. Coffee has become an inherent part of people’s lives and driving a lot of the interest in the brand is that link back to coffee,” Bage explained.

“We’ve seen in the last few years increase scrutiny in [how coffee beans are sourced] and what happens to cups afterwards. Waste coffee grounds is the last piece in the puzzle in having a sustainable cup of coffee.”

Taking this all into account, Studio landed on the idea of ‘Wonderfuel’.

“The Wonderfuel concept, as an idea, not only gives Tom and his team a means of generating awareness of Coffee Logs this winter and beyond but, crucially, provides a broad creative platform that has the potential to take this brand onto another level,” said Mark Cramphorn, partner at Studio.

The ad campaign, launched today [6 November], was illustrated by award-winning designer Andy Smith and aims to “cut through the dark November nights and make commuters’ journeys home that bit brighter, through an illustration of what a powerful product Coffee Logs is.”

“There were so many angles we could have gone with for a product like this. But as an encapsulation of what the business is, the qualities and optimism of it we loved this and the warmth of it,” said Bage. “It ties a lot of concepts together.”

The campaign will be live in digital out-of-home media – including Waterloo Motion, the largest indoor advertising screen in the UK – for two weeks with support across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Get The Drum Newsletter

Build your marketing knowledge by choosing from daily news bulletins or a weekly special.