Creativity Can Save the World, but Not If You Do It Alone

Do something bigger, together

One day you wake up and find yourself in a position of influence. 

Exactly how you got there is unclear, but it's likely to have more to do with attrition than talent, but there you are nonetheless. 

Head of a family, head of a company, head of an army of people. 

The opportunity is fleeting, the machine that pushed you to the top keeps on turning. 

Flawed, unprepared and facing perhaps the greatest opportunity of your life—what do you do? 

You can simply run your company, make it the best it can be, hang on for as long as possible, influence the world as much as one company can.

Or you can connect with those others who have simultaneously found themselves at the top of their respective heaps, and attempt to do something bigger than any one company or person ever can. 

Pretty much every boardroom has Ban Ki-moon's 17 sustainable development goals like itches that need to be scratched. 

Reduce pollution. Fight hunger. Tackle climate change. Create gender equality. Everyone is doing something. But if everyone did one thing, you could make some real change. 

Put the company ego away, put the problem you are keen to solve at the center, and collaborate.

It seems strangely alien—rival companies coming together to solve mutual agendas—when it's such a blatantly obvious thing to do.

And somehow it allows everyone to achieve things at a scale that's simply beyond their individual reach. 

There is no way Heineken DB and Colenso BBDO could have marketed and distributed a bio-fuel made from beer though petrol stations, let alone turn the mushy waste into bio-fuel fit for sale, without serious help. We had to put the problem at the center and find partners who shared the vision of replacing fossil fuels. 

And there's no way a petrol company could have had beer drinkers flocking to their stations without the help of decent storytellers and a brewer. 

Collectively, boards of brewers, petrol companies, bio-fuel processors, media companies and brand agencies, who had little or no previous connection, came together to achieve something none of them could do alone. 

Each one got to tell their part of the bigger story from their perspective, to their own industry, their own customers. 


Beer Bottle Sand followed the same process. 

The problem was New Zealand beaches were being dredged for sand for the construction industry. So, the first partner became NZ's biggest construction company, the second was the biggest distributor of readymix concrete.  

We then simply asked people to recycle their empty bottles (25 percent of which go to landfill) and got them together with another partner that had the technology to crush the bottles back into sand for construction. 

Beer Bottle Sand

Right now, the New Zealand government has set a target of 100 percent renewable electricity by 2035; Auckland Council wants it to happen by 2021. About 80 percent of the electricity in the grid is already from renewables, so we're talking the last 20 percent.

Individually, it's an impossible task, even for a government. Collectively, it should be a piece of cake. 

Unsurprisingly, many of our biggest clients are already grappling with their carbon footprint and emissions. We're helping them tell their stories, and unlikely partnerships are forming behind this audacious goal.

A goal that the whole country would love to achieve—100% Pure NZ.

The partners are coming on board, and the collective goal is clear. 

And every day someone else wakes up and realizes they are in charge, albeit through attrition, and that if we work collectively, this is the biggest and best opportunity of our lives.

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Nick Worthington
Nick Worthington is creative chairman of Colenso BBDO.

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