Mount Recyclemore: Bringing musicMagpie’s values and purpose to life

by Paul Lucas
29 June 2021

When the G7 Climate Summit took place in Cornwall earlier this month, our sister agency Fanclub worked with re-commerce champion musicMagpie Plc to develop a purpose driven campaign that reimagined the attending global leaders as the E7 - creating a Mount Rushmore-esque sculpture that put the issue of electronic waste, and the need for greater re-use and recycling, on the world stage.

musicMagpie leading the charge 

E-waste is a growing global problem. According to the United Nations, 53 million tonnes of e-waste is generated worldwide each year and this will more than double by 2050, making it the fastest growing stream of rubbish in the world. 

Unless recycled properly e-waste is a dangerous pollutant to soil, water and air.  

The millions of laptops, mobile phones and consumer electronic goods that make up e-waste also rely heavily on ever diminishing, but reusable, precious metals that, when extracted from the earth, can create harmful environmental problems. The G7 nations alone produce almost 15.9 million tonnes of e-waste a year.

Re-commerce company, musicMagpie, wanted to develop a campaign to educate and empower people to make the necessary changes when it came to disposing of e-waste. As a champion of the circular economy, the company wanted to bring change by raising awareness of how consumers, businesses and governments can support a more sustainable approach to the ownership of consumer tech, by doing something as simple as trading in or recycling.  

In response, Fanclub, where I  also oversee creative strategy, developed a visually creative, purpose driven campaign to peak media, political and consumer interest, by harnessing the global spotlight that was on the G7 Climate Summit. 

Mount Recyclemore

From research we conducted we knew consumer awareness around e-waste was low. Four in five Brits didn’t know what e-waste was and nearly half were unaware it impacted climate change.

Alongside this, our research exposed that almost half of Brits do not recycle, resell, or donate their old tech to charity. With five million adults openly admitting to throwing their old tech in the bin. Research also showed that British consumers were sitting on £16.5 billion worth of technology they no longer used.

Armed with these findings, we knew we needed to do something bold. With Cornwall set to be the stage for the G7 Climate Summit, the time was right to make a statement.

To draw attention to these worrying findings and make sure leaders of the G7 sat up and paid attention, we collaborated with British artist Joe Rush to erect a huge sculpture of the heads of the G7 leaders made from discarded electronic goods, based on America’s iconic Mount Rushmore. musicMagpie’s 'Mount Recyclemore' overlooked Carbis Bay, where the real-life President Biden, Prime Minister Johnson, President Macron and other world leaders were meeting.  

We also partnered with global waste management charity WasteAid, with musicMagpie giving the charity £1 for each piece of consumer tech customers trade in with them during June. People also had the option to donate the value offered by the recommerce platform to WasteAid. Donations will fund WasteAid’s sustainable e-waste management education programmes in lower-income countries.

With Mount Recyclemore constructed, and research findings and charity partnership in place, myself and the team decamped to Cornwall to launch the campaign to the world’s media.

The results

The results so far have been nothing short of spectacular. Coverage is still rolling in but there has already been over 1000 articles, including in titles such as the BBC, Guardian, Washington Post, Forbes and New York Times. Broadcast coverage has spanned Sky News, BBC Radio 4, ITV, Reuters, CBC, TV Asahi (Japan), Ruptly.TV (Germany) and Televisa UK (Mexico).

Key message penetration has been exceptional with the campaign even mentioned by high profile US chat show presenters, including Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show and James Corden on The Late Show. Engagement with politicians has been successful too, with Jeremy Corbyn tweeting his support for the campaign and mentioning it in his speech to the Cambridge Union. 

Mount Recyclemore even became an attraction in its own right, getting its own listing as a location and ‘cultural landmark’ on Google Maps. Something which can only be achieved organically.

We look forward to totaling the charity donation in July.

This CorpSumer project joined together market research and insight, purposeful campaigning and political timeliness to bring musicMagpie’s values to life beautifully. 

To quote an old colleague of mine, Fever Unlimited’s Creative Director Jo Chappel, talking to industry website Creative Moment:

"Unflattering comparisons between our PM and a pile of old rubbish aren’t new but a giant sculpture of Boris, alongside his G7 summit peers made entirely from rubbish is. 

"What I love is unlike the ephemeral nature of many stunts this one has longevity with the brand behind it—musicMagpie—donating funds to WasteAid for every piece of consumer tech customers trade in with them throughout June. 

"A far from rubbish idea."