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How Coors Light’s ‘Chillboards’ Help Lower Temperatures and Utility Bills for This Miami Community

Behind the Work 194 Add to collection

LBB’s Ben Conway speaks to the DDB team behind the campaign that painted billboards on Miami rooftops to reflect sunlight, as well as director Set Free Richardson and Tom Webster, experiential creative director at the campaign’s production company HELO

How Coors Light’s ‘Chillboards’ Help Lower Temperatures and Utility Bills for This Miami Community


Exceedingly high temperatures during heat surges in Florida can cause more damage to communities than you might think. Behind the obvious dangers of heat stroke and sunburn, lies a more sinister threat to already vulnerable communities, such as the Knight Center housing development in Miami’s Little Haiti district. As director Set Free Richardson points out, when the temperature is so high and air conditioning becomes a necessity, many low-income and financially disadvantaged families may have to make a brutal decision between paying their electric bills (to run the AC) or to buy food that week.

Collaborating with DDB agencies adam&eveDDB, DDB Chicago, Nord DDB CPH and production company HELO, Coors Light decided to help out the Knight Center community in Miami by painting white billboards onto their roofs, reflecting 85% of sunlight and reducing surface temperature by 50 degrees. Local artist Andaluz designed the custom font and helped a team paint the billboards over the course of 10 days, hoping to reduce internal temperatures and reduce electricity bills for the residents too.

HELO director and the founder of lifestyle brand ‘Compound’, Set Free Richardson, directed the spot which features drone footage of the ‘Chillboards’ being painted, as well as some authentic interviews with people living in the Knight Center development. As the OOH portion of the campaign is obviously not visible to the public - unless flying overhead - the project is more about what Coors Light could do for communities in need and to spread awareness of how others can paint their roofs too. In fact, via this website Coors is giving away 5,000 gallons of reflective white paint to spread the efforts of this campaign beyond Miami.

To discuss how the campaign came about, the surprise of the Chillboards being more effective than predicted and how Set Free bonded with the local community to get them on board and to capture their reactions, LBB’s Ben Conway spoke to the director, as well as HELO’s experiential creative director, Tom Webster. From the agencies involved, he also spoke with Nord DDB CPH's creative director and senior art director, Tim Fremmich Andresen and Anders Kure, and adam&eveDDB’s senior copywriter and senior art director, Jess West and Borja Iciz.



LBB> When and how did you first get involved in this project? 


Jess, Borja, Anders & Tim> We were briefed in Autumn 2021, which feels like a long time ago! But all the hard work that has gone into the project since then has been totally worth it and, we hope, shows in the final product now. There are months of craft and hard work from all over the world on those roofs and we couldn’t be prouder. Also, this is the first time working on Coors Light for both of us!



LBB> Where did the initial creative spark for billboards on top of roofs come from? Was there a data insight or story that inspired the reflective paint idea?


Tim & Anders> Coors Light's brand platform is ‘made to chill’ and the brief was ‘how can we chill everyone?’. So we looked into heat in the US and the idea arose when we read about the social inequality that exists in the US when it comes to heat. In some areas the building density and lack of green areas means that these areas almost gets 'baked' when hit by heat waves. One of the solutions was the white roofs, which wasn’t really something a lot of people knew about, so we thought why not help spread awareness while helping people at the same time? And what’s really cool is that the core of the idea, writing headlines on roofs – creating ads nobody can see but everybody can see – is what was presented in the first meeting and is what ended being the final execution.



LBB> Did you have to research the paint and similar projects that have used techniques like this to cool buildings? Did you test the ‘Chillboards’ method before production?


Jess & Borja> White paint can have different components in it to make it more reflective. The paint we had access to could reflect 85% of sunlight, but any white paint reflects sunlight more than unpainted dark roofs. The campaign didn’t aim to find the most reflective paint, but to tell these communities that any white paint could help them ‘chill’.

As with any campaign like this, there’s always a part of you that is worried about efficacy. Tests were made, the science was there to back up the idea. But the magic happened when we were up on those roofs, measuring temperatures with the heat gun. It did work. And the readings exceeded expectations. We even had to update one of the Chillboard headlines with the new data! Which was a dream come true.



LBB> How did you get HELO to work on production? Why were they ideal for this project and have you worked with them before?


Jess & Borja> We approached several production companies. Most of them said that we were crazy, but HELO was different. They gave us the confidence that they could find the right community with the right story, which was of the utmost importance to us – it’s an idea created to help people, not sell to them. They scouted hundreds of locations and talked to who knows how many people until we found our spot. And it was perfect. The roofs were like big billboards ready and waiting for us!

Set Free> The first call I received about the project was from Rupert Samuel, a producer at HELO. Being a part of the art community myself, and hearing that they were creating billboards on top of roofs with an artistic, graffiti-style font, I thought it was amazing. When I further learned that the campaign was about helping the community reduce their electricity bills and the environmental impact, I was super excited to come on board. I hadn’t previously worked with DDB, however, I’ve appeared in two Coors Light commercials in my life, first as a DJ 15 years ago, and second as a referee.



LBB> What was your initial reaction when you heard they wanted to paint roofs as billboards? What ideas immediately sprang to mind, regarding how you would capture this on film and what aspects of the campaign would make for the best footage?


Set Free> The first thing that came to mind was using drones to shoot the campaign from a beautiful, aerial point of view. We’d need drones not only to capture the end results, but also the entire process, including the painters, the thermometers, and all aspects that went into creating the campaign up on the roofs. 

Tom> Free and I had been collaborating with Andaluz, a talented street artist, on a mural campaign for adidas at Art Basel in Miami. Since the city and the artist were top of mind and met all of the criteria, it was a logical fit to work with him on location in Miami. The main attraction to the project for both of us was that it felt more like an art project than an advertising campaign. The font DDB created was incredible, so it was like we were creating art, rather than a television commercial.



LBB> How did you scout the location and how many roofs did you end up painting? 


Tom> It was important for us to find a lower-income neighbourhood where the campaign could have a real positive impact and help people. Once we decided upon Miami, we scouted 50 different locations on Google Earth to find the right amount of apartments in a space that would work. We eventually decided upon a development called Knight Center in Little Haiti, and it was the perfect location because it featured 12 apartment buildings in a unique layout that were proportionately billboard-sized. At first, it was actually quite difficult to get any building to say ‘yes’ to this, because they didn’t quite understand the concept. The producer and I flew down to Miami to discuss the campaign with the apartment block owners, who were two women that were fantastic to work with.

Set Free> It was one of our key priorities to ensure that the community understood what we were doing. Before we even asked any residents to be a part of the campaign, Tom and I walked around and explained how the campaign would benefit the tenants and help raise awareness. Though we had permission from the development owners, we wanted to make sure the community was on board and a part of it. 



LBB> How was it decided what words you would paint onto the roofs? How was the process of writing the copy and choosing the font/design?


Tim & Jess> This was a copywriter’s dream. Writing headlines in a tone of voice that feels true to the brand, all the while conveying real purpose at its core. We wrote around 100 google docs of headlines throughout the process. We tweaked and improved them daily as the project evolved – some roofs are more factual, while others play into a beer tonality without making the messaging frivolous. But interestingly, we actually had some headlines that were identical from the beginning.

Anders> Our typography was created especially for the project. We wanted to spread our message (literally) so we created a dynamic typeface that adapted to each roof for the maximum percentage of surface area coverage. That’s how ‘Chillest’ was born. We designed a dynamic typography that covers 96% of the surface area, adaptable to any shape and size of surface. Andaluz then came on board to help, as he has lots of experience in murals and painted art that was authentic to the community. 



LBB> How were the shoots and the painting process?


Set Free> Andaluz did a layout on his computer to visualise how the fonts would appear on the roofs, and next, he went to the physical location and blocked out the art by outlining each billboard on each roof. Once those steps were completed, it was time to actually paint the billboards.

Tom> We actually created 6x6 foot massive grids on each roof to make it easier to replicate the designs at such a large scale. We had a team of 12 people painting for 10 days, so it was a massive endeavour. All aerial footage was captured via the drones. We had an amazing drone pilot who actually did a virtual scout of the location for the agency’s global offices. Once we were ready to film the campaign, the drone pilot returned and spent a full day shooting the project from every angle.

Set Free> It was basically a three-day shoot, and I spent half a day engaging with the community. As the director, it was important for me to get to know the residents before the cameras were on. We also wanted to find the right people to tell their stories, while making the spot diverse. We had representation from the Black community, as well as the Spanish-speaking community, where one of our PAs was able to help out as a translator. We wanted to ensure we found the right voices for the spot and hear their stories about living in the heat of Miami summers. 

Knowledge is key, and in terms of lessons learned, I had no idea that you could save so much money on an energy bill by just painting a roof white. Some people have to make a decision if they want to keep the house cool or pay for food - it’s things like that I would never learn from everyday life. It was a beautiful process being able to learn about something so important for communities, and partner with companies like Coors Light, DDB, and HELO to help make a difference in the world.



LBB> What was the hardest challenge you faced on this project and how did you overcome it?


Borja & Anders> It was hard trying to find the right location. We’ve seen so many roofs! But as soon as we saw images of our spot in Miami, we knew we had found the one. They looked like billboards, so worked perfectly for Chillboards.

Set Free> The heat and staying cool was the hardest challenge. It was really hot up on the roof and outside while we were shooting. We fought through it, and though it was definitely a hot job, the community was so nice. DDB and everyone from production were a pleasure to work with and overall, it was a great experience. 



LBB> Anything else you would like to add?


Tim, Anders, Borja & Jess> We want to give a shout out to our producer who found Jane Gilbert quite a way into the process. Jane is the chief heat officer for Miami Dade County and has been campaigning for simple, effective solutions to America’s heat inequality issue for some time - making her perfect for our idea. When she was presented to us in a meeting, it felt like it was meant to be. She became the face of the campaign and an extremely knowledgeable source that can help raise awareness of rising heatwaves and the simple solutions we can all implement to stay chilled at home. 

Tom> She played a key role in helping us drive messaging and create awareness around the efficacy of painting roofs white and the impact it can make on home temperatures. While this was an advertisement for Coors Light, it was also a campaign about helping communities save money by reducing air conditioning costs. We wanted to ensure we were raising awareness about how simple it is to get up on your roof, paint it white, and reduce the surface temperature by up to 50 degrees.

We received a donation from Mule-Hide, the roof coating company, of 5,000 gallons of reflective paint that we’re giving away. It’s enough to paint about 2 million square feet, and anyone interested can apply for a donation on the campaign website: https://www.coorslight.com/en-US/chillboards. If you’re interested in the typeface, you can also visit the site to download it and use it for fun.


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HELO, Fri, 20 May 2022 16:40:00 GMT