200,000 Coke cans = 1 giant artwork

A classic 1940s Coke poster has been recreated using 200,000 crushed cans to mark the start of Recycle Week

A 1940s Coke ad has been recreated using 200,000 crushed cans to mark the start of Recycle Week

The 50m long artwork was created on the Sussex coast by a team of artists led by Robert Bradford and took a week to complete. It’s based on this 1949 billboard ad by artist Haddon Sundblom who painted many of Coke’s most famous poster images.

The point, Coke says, is to encourage people to recycle their used cans. As with all ‘green’ campaigns there is a slightly bewildering comparative statistic to reinforce the importance of this: “At the end of Recycle Week [June 22-28] each of the 200,000 cans will be recycled saving enough energy to keep a television running for seventy years.” According to Coke, if you recycle your used can, it could reappear on the shelves filled with yet more tooth-endangering flavoured water in just six weeks. Marvellous.

Of course, there’s not much point doing all this awareness-raising if there’s nowhere nearby in which to put your cans for recycling: Coke is, we are told, working with the recycling body WRAP to install Recycle Zones around the UK in places like places like shopping centres, theme parks, airports and university campuses (20 so far, another 60 by 2011).

Here’s a little film about the whole project

It’s hard to be anything but cynical about Coke’s new-found interest in conserving the earth’s resources but if the exercise encourages more people to recycle then fair enough. We can’t help wondering whether all that time and effort couldn’t have been put toward creating a more interesting final image though.

Robert Bradford – Lead Artist
Paul Cross – Production Designer
Jason Hawkes – Aerial Photography Specialist
Norfolk Environmental Waste Services – provider of cans and final recycling destination

  • I completely agree! X(

  • Nice application idea here, very Sagmeister. Feels like we’re going to be seeing a lot of recycled art ideas.

  • I’m all for recycling and saving the planet and have nothing against Coke, but how many people are actually going to be able to see this in all it’s glory from above? To most visitors (on foot) it’s going to actually look like a load of dumped cans!

  • Fantastic, thanks for posting this.

  • Of course Coca-Cola could solve the problem in one fell swoop by only supplying their horrible tooth-rotting liquid in their beautiful loewy designed glass bottles and giving a money back incentive. In India the bottles are used over and over again.

  • This thing looks awful? Robert Bradford totally blew it.
    That type is so poorly done. What were they thinking? They really should have gotten someone with a little more graphic design know-how. Sad to see so much work wasted on a bad design.

  • Naomi Covacs

    it looks like a load of dumped cans any way you look it. It’s a shame, really – I’m all for recycling campaigns, but bad art just for the sake of it? So many different visual solutions could’ve been applied, not to mention refinement. If it were done by preschool kids, in a pre-defined space, collaboratively, i would have considered its value – may have turned out better also. But, alas, it’s not.

  • How is this recycling in any way? And if its supposed to be recycling of artwork over a period of time… then I think the amount of resources used in the process are just not worth it !

  • The Stig

    Piffle!! Something to encourage people to recycle my arse! A means of getting the council to allow a coke ad on a heritage site more like…pure publicity of the worst kind. I’m off to buy a Pepsi…

  • The Stig

    Did I already say this is a load of rubbish!??

  • I love the idea. It’s easy to knock Coke and the left wing environmental lobby love to bash them McDonalds, Starbucks and the rest. But the reality is when Coke does something it makes a massive worldwide difference. Let us not forget that the reason they are so big is because the majority of people drink and like it. If they get people to recycle they’ll make a greater difference than any small holier than thou eco drink brand. Read the book Ethical Marketing & the New Consumer (on Amazon) and you’ll see another side to the debate.

  • David

    The idea of recycling is nonsense. I’m sorry, but it is. All we’re doing is using more energy to process materials, them to make those materials into a third-grade material and to try and find a use for them. Recycling is NOT the solution, companies who put materials into a product cycle which cannot be completely re-used as they are to CREATE energy, with no processing, should be fined heavily. Wake up world.

  • mikie

    What on earth is the point! also what is a Citizenship Manager. Very lame idea Primary School infact

  • Pete

    It’s ok I suppose. An impressive piece of work in scale but not in creativity.

  • Fair negative review, clearly coca cola are doing this mainly as a pubilicity stunt, but thats no different than any other company. Business aside, I think its an excellent piece of art.

  • Great idea! Love seeing a creative mind work and gain success!!!!!! Hope it continues to grow!