Remember that Chinese artist who collected Beijing’s smog with an industrial vacuum cleaner to point out how bad the pollution in his country really was (and still is)? Yes, the one who crafted a solid brick just out of dust particles. This happened just two years ago and although the locals could see what pollution looks like, its poisonous effects continue to threaten their health.

Flying to the other side of the globe, we meet Lima, Peru’s capital city which is going to lose all of its clean air pretty soon if it keeps inhaling cars’ emissions. The city reached the list of top most polluted cities in Latin America. More precisely, the second place, a position that doesn’t reflect the city’s identity at all.

Peruvian gas company Cálidda together with McCann Lima decided to save the country’s largest city by using its worst problem, pollution, to prevent it from getting worse. To do so, they gave a voice and a face to the capital city, only to emphasize the fact that breathing the harmful air might cost one a lot. In order to stop the contaminated atmosphere from affecting the city’s residents, but also to promote the benefits of natural gas, a service offered by Cálidda, the creative agency outlined a silhouette of a new ‘resident’ that was attributed an important role during the “Lima Talks” experiment.

We are talking about an innovative billboard that was placed in one of the city’s busiest traffic locations. With its roots deeply planted in a key area and directly exposed to the polluted air emitted by passing cars, the panel’s simple task was just to breathe. One may think this is an easy job for a billboard, but not on this side of the world…

Equipped with a special device that collects CO2 pollution from the atmosphere, the OOH panel stored occurring emissions and processed them into a powder that acted as ink. The process lasted for 15 days, during which the powder ‘proved’ its special abilities. As the ad was ‘fed up’ with CO2, its looks started to change and, in just two weeks, the billboard, almost suffocated, and called for help with a strong message: “It takes me a lot to breathe.”

Although it uses CO2 to highlight the low air quality in Lima, the billboard doesn’t have Ad/Sorbent OOH’s ability to capture and purify the air. Rather, the gas company’s ad bear resemblance to Pantene’s Hair Falling Billboard, which married creativity with air pollution only to highlight how one’s hair (or health) can suffer because of the unpleasant effects CO2 emissions have.

Speaking about the current campaign, Mauricio Fernández-Maldonado, the creative EVP for McCann Lima, said: “The outdoor was installed in one of Lima’s busiest traffic points, Abancay Avenue so that we could reach the largest possible audience while showing the concrete result of fossil fuels.”

The Lima-based agency documented the whole experiment and created a 44-second-long video during which you can actually hear Lima’s hoarse voice. In an effort to make people aware of the problem that literally choked the billboard, and surely makes the local residents feel uncomfortable, the creatives decided to share the video across social media platforms. Within the media kit, they included the air pollution powder, which was sent to both influencers and the press, along with an invitation to the public to debate Lima’s appalling air pollution.


Client: Cálidda

Product: Natural Gas

Agency: McCann Lima

Creative EVPs: Mauricio Fernandez-Maldonado/ Christian Caldwell

Creative Directors: Javier Delgado/ Giovanni Macco

Creative team: Carlos Banda/ Fernando Valladares/ Gonzalo Buendía/ Christian Rojas

Account team: Juan Camilo Correa/ Viviana Exebio/ Raquel Lopez

Production: Alonso Palomino/ Sebastián Salinas

Planning team: Rodrigo Revoredo/ Carlos José Romero

Production implementation: Petty Publicidad

Production house: Saturno

Film Director: Álvaro Luque

Director assistant: Carlos Soto

Executive producer: Cocler Díaz

Production: Mariajosé Castratt

Client approval: Claudia Doig/ Angela Pegam/ María Isabel Baca