Why McCann Furnished This Bogotá Apartment With River Trash

Maybe rent a different place in town

If you're in the market for a furnished apartment in Bogotá, Colombia, here's one to avoid.

Oh, it come fully loaded—with chairs, tables, TVs, a refrigerator, curtains, beds, clocks, lamps, kitchen utensils, even portraits for the walls and a wardrobe filled with clothes.

All this stuff, however, appears shabby, soiled, and in most cases, broken or falling apart. Rusted springs poke menacingly through mattresses, and the cushions are caked with slime. The clocks don't run, and the rooms reek of mold.

That's because McCann Worldgroup Colombia, Bank of Bogotá and the Bogotá River Group Alliance decorated the flat with garbage to make a point about pollution. The furniture, appliances and assorted knickknacks were recovered from the Bogotá River, from which 270 tons of waste are collected each month.

Check out the project and see for yourself. They totally trashed the place!

Before the pandemic, the team had planned to build this unit of "The River Apartments" in a storage container open to the public 24/7, but quarantine restrictions forced a re-think.

"We found the SOHO 39 project duplex apartments, located in one of the main avenues of the city," McCann designer Eduardo Quiros tells Muse. "They are perfect place to bring the idea to life both in a physical space and in a virtual one, where people could visit each corner of the property" either in person or online.

"It is a new building, which still has apartments on the market," Quiros says. "We used one of their model apartments. Right off the bat, when we first started furnishing it with garbage, those taking tours of the new property wanted to check out our apartment as well."

To furnish the god-awful crib, "many objects, such as the sofa and the bed, were found along the riverside, where moving-company trucks dump debris and old furniture," says McCann art director Jairo Restrepo. "The fridge and washing machine were bought from a junkyard by the river that reclaims appliances to resell spare parts." Other items were provided by PTAR Salitre, which is building a treatment plant to clean the filthy water.

See some more pics here:

As part of the campaign, a local TV personality recently broadcast a live segment from the nasty apartment. "The visual contrast of the presenter surrounded by trash and the other anchors in their clean homes [per pandemic protocol] was stunning," Restrepo recalls. "At first, people felt disgusted—especially with the bed—then surprised to see that all this (refuse) came from the river."

Ultimately, the show communicated a deeper message: "It is an apartment furnished by themselves and their peers," and it's everyone's responsibility to help clean it up, Restrepo says.

Beyond the environmental boost, a scrubbed waterway could benefit Colombians in other ways, too.

"The economy of millions of families—that generate 28 percent of agricultural production and 8 percent of Colombia's energy—depend on this river," says agency general creative director Diana Triana. "It is estimated that, well treated, this river could represent more than 15 percent of the national GDP."

David Gianatasio
David Gianatasio is senior editor at Clio Awards.

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