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Brands’ latest media experiment? Reinventing wrapping paper

Love Beauty and Planet's wrapping paper ad will be published on Sunday

As ad spend swings further towards digital, a number of brands are reconfiguring the humble roll of wrapping paper as an alternative IRL media platform.

On 8 December, Unilever beauty brand Love Beauty and Planet will place an ad in the New York Times centerspread. The creative, which has been created in partnership with illustrator Leah Duncan, has been designed to be pulled out of the paper and reused as giftwrap for the holiday season.

The reusable ad ties with the brand’s sustainable purpose. Launched in 2018, Unilever’s newest beauty company is using the stunt to highlight environmental festive stats, such as the fact that trash increases by 25% around the holiday season.

“Love Beauty and Planet is founded on the belief that small acts add up to a big impact for the planet,” said the brand’s founder, Sonika Malhotra. “The holiday season – a time of giving, but also a time of waste – is no exception.

“We hope that our unique planet-friendly wrapping paper in the New York Times will encourage people to rethink their holiday waste, reuse something that they typically may not and inspire them to reduce their environmental impact while having a happy, healthy holiday with friends and family.”

The activation acts as a clever way to multiply an ad’s distribution. But it also taps into a growing consumer trend: swapping glittery wrapping paper for a recyclable alternative, or forgoing it altogether.

According to Sundale Research, US sales of reusable gift bags rose faster than wrapping paper last year. And an Accenture survey of 1,500 consumers revealed half would happily send gifts without wrapping.

In the UK, this interest in sustainable gifting has seen lifestyle retailer Fat Face turn its paper shopping bags into wrapping paper. The bags come with cutting and folding instructions and the biodegradable material can be recycled once used.

Meanwhile, ethical toilet paper brand Who Gives A Crap is encouraging consumers to reuse its wrappers as wrapping paper for gifts. It’s created a special 48-roll Gift Edition – complete with ‘to’ and ‘from’ printed labels – to push the initiative.

Other companies, however, are creating branded wrapping paper without tapping into a higher sustainable purpose.

Dunkin’ is selling peppermint scented ‘Wrappin’ Paper’ for those who want to shroud their loved ones in the smell of ‘peppermint mocha chocolatey deliciousness’ as part of the brand’s first online pop-up shop. The company’s foray into e-commerce also stocks unscented wrapping paper, an electric guitar, a fanny pack and hair scrunchies.

Jimmy Dean is also dipping into aromatic wrapping paper with a sausage-scented offer. From as early as 5 November, the company encouraged consumers to take a photo of them cooking a Jimmy Dean fresh roll sausage to get the paper, sausage-flavored candy canes or ‘sweet ‘n’ savory’ lip balm back in exchange.

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