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Leo Burnett wins Sri Lanka’s first D&AD Impact Pencil for Petal Paint


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Leo Burnett Sri Lanka, the only D&AD awarded agency in Sri Lanka, has earned the distinction of winning Sri Lanka’s first ever coveted ‘Wood Pencil’ at the D&AD Impact awards in London, in the Environmental Sustainability category for its Petal Paint Campaign for JAT Holdings. This was made possible through a special collaboration with Leo Burnett Toronto.  

D&AD Impact Awards identify and celebrate great, transformative, creative ideas from around the world that have had real impact and, ultimately, contribute towards a better, fairer and more sustainable future for all. In keeping with the ethos of the awards, Leo Burnett’s Petal Paint demonstrates how a Sri Lankan brand can connect with people through a social mission by staying true to its larger purpose of ‘transforming spaces’.

Through Petal Paint, flowers offered at temples have now gained a new purpose beyond a single offering, making them live forever on temple walls in an eternal incarnation that will never fade away.

The Environmental Sustainability award category evaluates ideas that help preserve the natural world and the capability of the environment to support life. The category spans innovations that work towards preserving ecosystems; products or campaigns which support people to reduce their environmental impact; creating services and systems around efficient energy sources; taking action against climate change or fighting waste and pollution.

Petal Paint is an initiative that pays homage to Sri Lanka’s rich heritage of temple art, often found in the form of captivating wall murals in temple shrine rooms. The creative campaign consisted of extracting the pigment contained in temple flower offerings to create a range of safe, long-lasting paints and use them for the creation and restoration of temple art. In Buddhism, flowers signify the impermanence of life. Their highest purpose is to become an altar offering. But due to the high volume of daily worshipers, flowers offered at temples get discarded within minutes. This results in millions of fresh flowers getting wasted daily. 

By extracting the pigment contained in these temple flower offerings, Leo Burnett created Petal Paint in collaboration with JAT Holdings. The flower offerings are collected from various temples across Colombo and taken through a drying process, after which their natural pigments are extracted to create Petal Paint. 

The former Managing Director of Leo Burnett Sri Lanka, Ranil de Silva, was instrumental in initiating the campaign during his tenure and advising the team throughout towards its successful conclusion. Commenting on the awards, de Silva said, “It is indeed a great honour for Leo Burnett to be awarded the highly prized ‘Wood Pencil’ at the prestigious D&AD Impact awards. From the inception of the Petal Paint campaign we knew we were onto a ‘big’ idea not just in terms of creativity and innovation, but also as a sustainable initiative in tune with the local ethos of Sri Lanka. It was an intensely collaborative effort with many stakeholders coming together, inspired by the idea of turning temple flowers into petal paint to restore temple art. I am ever so grateful to Anthony Chelvanathan, from Leo Burnett Toronto, for his dedication and the world class craft support that took this idea from good to great. Kudos to the entire team at Leo Burnett for turning this initiative into a global prize-winning campaign.” 

Adding further, JAT Holdings Managing Director Aelian Gunawardene said, “JAT Holdings is a sustainability driven company with a solid commitment to sustainability in all areas and we are proud that our Petal Paint campaign in partnership with Leo Burnett has been recognised and awarded at the D&AD Impact awards. Petal Paint is a unique idea and perhaps the first-ever globally to recycle and reuse temple flowers for the noble cause of restoring temple art, which is part of our national heritage. The Petal paint campaign reflects our approach of fresh thinking to solve an environmental challenge by creating a distinctive and innovative product to cater to a specific need.” 

Commenting on the accolade, Leo Burnett Sri Lanka CEO Arosha Perera said, “This triumph at the highly-regarded global D&AD Impact awards reflects the high benchmarks we have set for ourselves at Leo Burnett Sri Lanka. The entire Petal Paint concept, from start to finish, was a deeply spiritual creative endeavour for all of us at the agency and we are thrilled that our fresh and insightful creativity was recognised for its sustainability elements and out-of-the-box thinking. I must take this opportunity to applaud Janath Gamage from Leo Burnett Sri Lanka for the idea that was born of his passion for creativity. It just shows how the power of new thinking can add creative magic and impact to brands. I am grateful to our client, JAT Holdings, for their support and for placing their faith in us in delivering a creative concept that is truly world-class.”

Leo Burnett has become a crucible for creativity and great thinking, producing to be executed in a fresh, relevant and insightful manner to add value to clients’ brands. The agency conveyed the sustainable and eco-friendly benefits of this unique paint through a touching campaign which evoked the culture and heritage of Sri Lanka. As Leo Burnett celebrates its 19th year of operations in Sri Lanka and looks ahead to the future, the agency will continue to focus on its Human Kind approach to help build powerful brands and meaningful partnerships with its clients, while delivering gratifying results and gaining peer recognition in the industry.


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