Plastic Flies as Smol Debuts in the Dirty World of Laundry

Helping clean up an environmental mess

Microplastics are everywhere: In the oceans, in our food, in the sky. Some time ago, it horrified us to learn how many microplastics we leak into the sea just by running a load of laundry.

As a personal aside, we think it's toxic to treat the overall problem like one that rests almost entirely on individual shoulders. There's a lot we can do to get companies to stop producing so much disposable material, but we're also limited by the options available in supermarkets. Not everyone has time to learn how to make their own detergent.

Enter Smol, part of a new breed addressing the larger plastics issue associated with our everyday laundering—the packaging itself. It's so simple it's almost laughable: The company, based in the U.K., sells plastic-free detergent capsules in compostable containers.

The brand introduces itself with a campaign developed by Mother and Drool:

The ad makes this point, presenting a washer that starts making indigestion noises in the dead of night, freaking out the family dog. Suddenly, the machine throws open its door and projectile-vomits a wet array of plastic all over the kitchen floor. Then it vomits up even more.

Titled "Sick of Plastic," the spot illustrates the stages of vomiting to a T. From that uncomfortable, runny stomach upset, to the initial upchuck, through that final puey proper release that makes you feel like your intestines are fleeing Pompei. The ad ends on a less bilious note, telling us that 70 million plastic laundry packs go to landfills every year.

"This campaign aims to introduce Smol to an audience fatigued by anti-plastic messaging, with a humorous, attention-grabbing concept: A washing machine that vomits the plastic waste it's likely to get through in its lifetime,” explains Smol CMO Hillary Strong. The goal, she says, is "mirroring our audience who are quite literally sick of plastic."

Smol bills itself as having the world's first plastic-free laundry packaging. We're not sure that's true. Washaby provides the same service in France and in Spain, and our Instagram feeds are inundated with come-ons from other brands. But this is a competitive situation we're not complaining about.

Smol's recyclable, compostable containers are approved by the Forest Stewardship Council. So, the material comes from responsibly managed forests. The packs are printed with vegetable-based ink.

"Sick of Plastic" was directed by Freddie Powell, and will run for eight weeks across TV and on-demand, with versions also slated for outdoor and digital.

"Deploying a playful metaphor to dramatize the shocking amount of laundry plastic waste the U.K. goes through attempts to sidestep the inertia in this market," says Oli Rimoldi, a creative at Mother. "We're hoping the ‘plastic vomiting washing machine’ will make people smile whilst drawing their attention to the plastic problem—offering them an easy, simple solution to make change with Smol."


CLIENT: Hillary Strong, CMO of Smol 
CAMPAIGN: "Sick of Plastic"


Director: Freddie Powell
DOP: Ben Magahy
Director's Assistant: Joseph Paul
Exec Producer: Genevieve Sheppard
Producer: Jess Wylie
Production Design: Arthur De Borman
SFX Supervisor: Sean Harland, Matter SFX
SFX Assistant: Louis Burke, Matter SFX
SFX Assistant: Efe Agaulo, Matter SFX
Lead Sound Engineer: Sam Ashwell
Sound Engineer: Jake Ashwell
Producer: Olivia Ray

EDIT: Trim
Editor: Thomas Grove Carter
Producer: Tatyana Alexandr

POST: Untold
Exec Producer: Tom Igglesden
Producer: Ella Glazer 
Producer: Jordan Malonga
Colourist: Julien Alary
VFX Lead: George Rockliffe 
VFX Artist: Stepan Pazderka


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Angela Natividad
Angela Natividad is the European markets editor at Muse by Clio. She also writes about gaming and fashion, and whatever else she's interested in, really. She's based in Paris and North Italy, so if you're local, say hi. She might eat all your food.

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