The Body Shop Puts its Advertising to Work for Healthier Cities

Air pollution remains an unseen global killer – with nearly 6.5 million deaths a year attributed to pollution we breathe every day – that's four times the amount of people killed on the world's roads, according to The Guardian. In fact, in the U.K. alone, high levels of NO2 cause more than 60 premature deaths a day. Now, one company is harnessing its passive advertising to help reduce that number – not only transforming a static image into a NO2 trapping powerhouse, but also raising awareness of an important new technology.

This week, The Body Shop announced a new program to clean up the air in London's busiest areas. The beauty brand is partnering with outdoor advertising giant JCDecaux and research and design firm Airlabs to create bus stop advertising that actually filters harmful elements out of the air. The ads will produce 95 percent cleaner air – making a safer, healthier environment for bus passengers. And although the initiative is starting with only three bus stops in the City of London, the effort is more than a marketing stunt. Elen MacAskill, Marketing and Corporate Responsibility Director at The Body Shop UK, explains how the brand wants to raise awareness of the technology in the hopes that others will follow suit, "We are calling on other businesses, transport operators, bus stop site owners and brands to follow this industry-leading approach. The technology can help reduce urban pollution exposure for thousands of people every day where nitrogen dioxide levels exceed the legal limit."

A trend that was highlighted at last week's Sustainable Brands conference in Detroit, many major companies are realizing the importance of collaboration to solve for today's most pressing social and environmental issues. Although The Body Shop's three bus stop advertisements may only be cleaning the air in the direct vicinity, if other brands, organizations – even municipalities – take a similar approach, the impact could be major.