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UTEC / Billboard-grown lettuce

by Contagious I/O

This story originally appeared on Contagious I/O, our customisable research platform featuring the world’s most innovative, creative and effective ad campaigns and marketing ideas

Demonstrating the power of engineering by growing pollution-free food

Lima’s University of Engineering & Technology (UTEC) has created yet another billboard to show how engineering can solve real-world problems.

Following on from its water and air-purifying billboards, the university’s latest billboard grows pollution-free food.

UTEC wanted to promote the fact that it was ready to accept applications for 2015, so the university decided to solve a new problem through engineering. In the Bujama region of Peru, crops are irrigated with water from local rivers, which can be contaminated with arsenic, lead or cadmium. So UTEC grew crops that would be pollution free, irrigated using water captured from the air.

UTEC, through FCB Mayo Peru, fitted its Air Orchard billboardwith 10 dehumidifiers. This water was filtered through to lettuce plants via PVC tubes coated in nutrients. Instead of being planted in soil, the lettuce is grown in the PVC tubes using mineral nutrient solution, a method called hydroponics.

Every weekend until the first week of April the university is giving its lettuce away to people passing through as well as to the community. The billboard has produced 2,800 heads of lettuce, as well as 96 liters of drinking water a day that is donated to local people.

‘UTEC is a university that was founded with the mission of developing applied research that provides practical solutions to the challenges of society and industry,’ said Ignacio Montero, director of business innovation at UTEC. ‘These principles are proven through innovative initiatives like the ‘Air Orchard.’ We improved on our first panel that generated water from moisture in the air for human consumption and increased the production of water to grow healthy food. We have found a practical solution to a real problem, and through creativity and innovation we developed solutions to the challenges of our country and the world.’


Contagious Insight /

Repeat success / FCB Mayo has hit on a winning formula here. Its condensation collection billboard won a Gold Lion in Outdoor at Cannes 2013 and that first iteration of the campaign achieved an impressive 28% increase in UTEC’s applications. The strategy behind this series of campaigns is smart because attracts potential students to engineering as a subject, while simultaneously generating PR for UTEC at a time of year when students are considering university applications, and promoting the university as an institution that’s both innovative and practical.

Third time’s the charm / When we reported on UTEC’s 2014 billboard we wondered whether the lack of quantifiable output (clean air) might hinder its potential effectiveness. But here UTEC achieves a much more tangible output: lots of free lettuce and clean water. It’s a mechanism that proves the ad works while also giving back to the community and gaining goodwill from locals.



This story originally appeared on Contagious I/O. Contagious I/O is our bespoke trends, inspiration, insight and analysis service, providing daily innovative marketing intelligence across a comprehensive range of sectors to brands and agencies across the world. For more information about Contagious I/O contact