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DB Export Beer Bottle Sand

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Mainstream beer consumption is in steep decline globally, nowhere more so than in New Zealand where it is at its lowest since WWII. Kiwi blokes didn’t need another cliché beer ad. What they needed was a brilliant reason to drink more beer. So that’s what DB Export gave them.

Working with agency PHD, it set about creating a way that people could save the planet by doing what they love, an idea that would help men justify drinking more beer by turning drinking into a selfless act of sustainability. DB Export Beer Bottle Sand. In doing so, it created an entire new layer of permissibility around DB’s products.

The world is running out of sand. It’s used in everything from construction to pharmaceuticals, and as result 2/3 of the world’s beaches are retreating. A billion-dollar black market has resulted in the illegal extraction of sand from Sierra Leone to Singapore. Sand is the second most exploited natural resource on the planet.

Of course, the world running out of sand and the decline in mainstream beer consumption is a spurious relationship to say the least, but that’s where the magic happened – the brand found a way to turn empty beer bottles into sand substitute. To save their beaches, it asked New Zealanders to empty a bottle of DB Export. Made from desert sand, each bottle makes 200 grams of sand substitute. To make a difference it needed New Zealanders to empty as many DB Export bottles as possible!


The target audience was beer drinking Kiwi blokes.

Scale was crucial to drive widespread visibility of this campaign, however, what was absolutely key was showing that this was a tangible solution. It needed its drinkers to believe that this was real, and that by drinking DB Export they could truly make a difference in saving NZ’s beaches.

The communications strategy was multi layered:

EXPOSE THE SAND MINING ISSUE: Seed the fact that sand mining was an issue right here in NZ, not just globally. Create a sense of outrage that its pristine beaches are being dredged to help construct shopping malls and motorways.

INTRODUCE THE SOLUTION – BEER BOTTLE SAND: Ensure that drinkers found out about the solution organically – through social, PR, earned channels. This would give the idea credibility and drive talkability. PHD had learnt from previous campaigns that success at a global level would translate to success at a local level. The NZ media love to promote Kiwi success stories from the world stage so this became a crucial part in landing its Earned strategy – start with the global platforms.

MAKE IT REAL: Show that Beer Bottle Sand actually existed. This meant being visible in places drinkers could create the sand, places where the sand was being used, and even places they could buy it.

AMPLIFY THE STORY: Amplify the story with a call to arms; tell beer drinkers that they can help save beaches by drinking more DB Export through paid media. At scale and for as long as possible.


EXPOSE THE ISSUE: Unbranded PR seeded the stories of the multiple NZ beaches being mined for sand to use in NZ construction, creating outrage that such an issue could exist in New Zealand.

INTRODUCING BEER BOTTLE SAND: PHD’s solution was introduced predominantly via a branded case study film via Earned channels. It reached 200million+ views both in NZ and globally, by partnering initially with the likes of Mashable etc. Once it had gained some global traction local news outlets jumped on the story – eager to show how local Kiwi ingenuity was being used to solve the sand mining issue. The inclusion of the sand machines in action helped land that this was a real, tangible solution.

MAKING IT REAL: These incredible sand machines travelled up and down the country, encouraging Kiwis to turn their empties into sand – and posting the video on social media.

Beer Bottle Sand was stocked in 45 outlets of NZ’s largest DIY retailer nationwide, creating a physical presence for the brand and sand product.

The agency negotiated inclusion of a building challenge using Beer Bottle Sand on popular NZ renovation show ‘The Block’ and on popular sports panel show, Crowd Goes Wild, turned one of the host’s lawns into a beach tennis court.

It also used building wraps of construction sites to communicate that they were using its sand in construction.

AMPLIFYING THE STORY: Kiwi men were then recruited to join the movement through TV, digital video, billboards and social – driving mass awareness and delivering longevity.


TV commercials, traditional and building site billboards, PR, content integration, radio partnerships and the machines themselves (and their social media connectivity) helped to deliver 204 million impressions and reach 97% of the target market.  

In a category declining at 6%, DB Export drinkers emptied 13 million bottles, delivering 9.7% yoy growth - helping DB Export become the only mainstream beer to grow in value and volume.

Beer Bottle Sand was supplied to construction companies, roading projects, golf courses, and drainage companies around the country. 

A two-year deal to supply Beer Bottle Sand to Drymix (New Zealand’s largest concrete producer) has seen it create its own brand of eco-concrete, sold to consumers through the country’s biggest home improvement chain. Requests for machines have come from as far away as Dubai, with scoping to supply 500 machines currently underway.

Thousands of user-generated videos were shared from machines, with the campaign video receiving 200+ million views and 700,000 shares.

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DB Export
Drinks (alcoholic)
New Zealand
February - July 2017
Media Channel:
Direct Marketing,Experiential,Digital,Out-of-Home,PR,Radio,TV
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