worth the paper
Three years ago we designed the packaging for Ismax, a characterful brand of recycled household paper that had been communicating quietly in its early years and was now ready to speak up. So we pulled out the megaphone to get their message out – on Instagram, in retail and even in the streets of Barcelona.
been more fun
Ismax is a genuinely purpose-driven, eco-friendly brand which naturally has a lot to say – about the ways we use our resources, the way we recycle, the urgency to do so and the excuses we find not to. Serious topics. But we didn’t want to be preachy about it and neither did we want to insult the customer’s intelligence by using fluffy, “inspirational” product messages. Instead, we decided to have some fun. We would talk the way real people talk, like the wise grandma who doesn’t mince her words. Bold and comical. We would be seriously funny.
Instagram is the first and, at this stage, the most appropriate social channel for Ismax. It has an established and engaged audience that is broad in terms of age and interests, words and images play an equal role in its content and the platform’s Reels feature means you can add lively Tik-Tok-style video and music. Last but not least, Instagram users tend to engage in conversation by sharing opinions and comments instead of just likes or shares. All of that made Instagram, in our eyes, a playground for authentic, high-quality conversation – for sustainable fun.
the walk to
talk the talk
We also turned our thoughts to the way Ismax was presenting its products. The brand had launched new packaging with customer-created copy that wasn’t featured on its website or on Instagram, and the assets the company had provided to its Amazon resellers didn’t match the quality of the products. So we reshot the products, including lively packshots and colourful still-lifes, and grouped them into bathroom and kitchen categories.
What, or more importantly who, did we have in mind when we shot the images and created our first videos and carousels on Instagram? We identified three types of (potential) customer: the 24/7 green devotee, the fair-weather environmentalist and the lover of tasteful design. Content needed to be honest and transparent to appeal to the devotees, practical and accessible for the fair-weathers, and aesthetically pleasing for the design lovers.
So what about the content itself? The brand’s values and mission naturally led us to four content pillars: sustainability, community, product and company culture. But how did we come up with content ideas? This is where Ester Grau, our Spanish copywriter, comes in. She and our creative team have weekly get-togethers to plan the content for a month ahead. We would brainstorm ideas to tie in with diary dates, such as our “do as your mother says” recycling messages for Mother’s Day, and famous song lyrics reworked with a gender equality slant for International Cleaning Day. But we also leave room for us to react spontaneously to the conversations that social media generates.
We grew very fond of these creative tête-à-têtes. As Ester puts it, “Few brands let you bring such richness to it, and that’s where the value of Ismax lies. We share values, ideas, ideals, words and the freedom to create.”
In June, we became ambassadors for Ismax and joined Barcelona Pride to walk side by side with others fighting for something that matters to Ismax: a sustainable world. To us, sustainability is not only about the planet and its resources. A sustainable world is socially sustainable too.
We designed tote bags, each of which was unique, with silk-screen-printed rainbow gradients and bold letters saying, “Llora por quien dé te gana” (cry for whoever you want). The emotions flowed freely that day, and Ismax was there to mop them up, giving away tissue boxes saying, “Tears, snot or makeup. I can handle it all,” and single-packed toilet rolls saying “Todo empieza con un rollo” (everything starts with a rollo – “rollo” meaning both “roll” and “hook-up” in Spanish).
The response to this campaign on social media was impressive. Our posts had an average ER of 7% and were reposted and shared by celebrities. When we did a draw for some of the bags that we had kept, the response went up to 19.7 %.
For the first time, Ismax’s paper products could speak to the whole community. We listened, learned, shared stories and let the good times roll. And our supply of tissues really did come in handy.
Actually, “following” is the wrong word. Following is history – now it’s all about engagement. And Ismax’s audience certainly does engage. Its ER is now at 3.3% with some Reels as high as 9%. We’ve been thrilled to see the response to Ismax’s new communication, with likes more than doubling in the past three months and (more importantly) comments up by nearly 500%. People are curious about Ismax, they ask questions, share their thoughts and take the conversation to other platforms. We succeeded in getting the Ismax message out – and now we have it on paper.