Mentos sustainability campaign ‘proves’ raccoons are better for recycling


Diving Brief:

  • Mentos has enlisted raccoons to do the dirty work of collecting trash for a new sustainability-focused campaign, according to a press release.
  • The effort highlights Mentos’ recyclable packaging and builds on research from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which found that only 32% of US consumers recycle. Proclaimed as a logical solution, Mentos spent more than 40 hours training raccoons to do the duty instead.
  • A 60-second spot features the Animals Task Force at work, reportedly proven to recycle 75% of the time. Consumers through Nov. 26 can text a designated number asking the task force to visit their city, while a social media component features themed giveaways.

Overview of the dive:

Sustainability is a hot topic right now, especially among Gen Z consumers. But EPA data from July indicates that not even a third of Americans actually recycle, despite 78% of the population declaring they are more likely to buy a product clearly labeled as environmentally friendly. As such, Mentos not only tries to elevate itself as an eco-friendly brand, but urges consumers to actually take action – report the trash pandas.

Because they already rummage through trash cans almost every day, Mentos thought recruiting raccoons for a recycling experiment made sense. Dubbed the Mentos Raccoon Recycling Task Force, Mentos has formed a small army of critters to scoop up Mentos Pure Fresh Gum containers, which are made in the USA from a 90% cardboard bottle as of February. The training took place in Simi Valley, California, where Mentos had “great success”, with 75% of the raccoons retrained.

To promote the results, a one-minute spot highlights the training process, being careful to note that the creatures weren’t harmed in the process. Instead, they were fed a variety of expensive treats and “treated like royalty”. Viewers can watch the task force recycle Mentos containers through various obstacles, with a comedic voiceover pointing out that they “don’t even have opposable thumbs”.

“Working with the Raccoon Recycling Force is a fun way to highlight how we can all do a little better, while learning from such a lovable and talented group of creatures,” said Craig Cuchra, vice president of marketing at Perfetti Van. Melle, the maker of Mentos.

The campaign also features mobile and out-of-home (OOH) elements, opening up the Mentos RRF hotline. Consumers can text the “Raccoons” to 1-833-RACYCLE until November 26 for the opportunity to bring the task force to their city.

Additionally, there will be social media activations on TikTok and Instagram, prompting users to take the “Official RRF Pledge” to properly recycle their Mentos products. Those who follow Mentos on Instagram, comment on the “I Pledge to Recycle” page, and add the hashtag #sweepstakes will enter to win task force themed items including hats, t-shirts and pins.

The Raccoon Recycling Task Force is an example of how brands are creatively engaging conversations about sustainability. Others took up space, with Coors Light in Mars announces $85 million push remove the plastic rings from its packaging. To promote the move, the beer brand opened a “Plastic-Free Future Mart” pop-up experience in New York City. Last year, Nature Valley is committed to having fully recyclable packaging by 2025 and then created a TikTok challenge to promote eco-friendly habits.

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