The Lovely Story of a Scandinavian Agency That Gave Its Logo to a Romanian Car Wash

Why trash what could be treasured?

Headshot of Angela Natividad

When agency JCP Nordic updated its brand identity and visual profile after 19 years, it realized it had a lot of old, outdated swag that would just go to waste, including sweaters, hats, notebooks, signage and even a branded car.

So instead of doing away with it all, it ran a clever campaign offering the whole package to takers on the internet. Talk about recycling!

“Changing our visual identity meant that we suddenly had a lot of excess branded office supplies and so on, with our old logo on it,” says CEO Øystein Tynning. “At the same time, many companies worldwide struggle with their own visibility. Instead of just throwing everything away, we decided to donate it all to a business somewhere that would benefit from it.”

Typically when brands change their visual profiles, they pump out press releases and try getting people interested in what the new brand identity represents. Tynning thought a more powerful story could be found in focusing on giving their old look and feel new life … while doing something nice for another company.

Iulian Soros, who owns a car wash just outside of Bucharest, ultimately won JCP’s outdated identity. The team from JCP Nordic hopped in their branded car and drove out to meet him, and help him mount all his cool new gear—including a sassy wall mount for the reception desk.

Watch the handover on JCP Nordic’s Facebook video, which has generated over 123,000 views.

On its quest for a successor, JCP Nordic took out a classified ad for a “logo and visual identity giveaway,” published on sites in France, Iran, Russia, Bulgaria, Iceland, Macedonia, the Bahamas, Greece and still other countries. The ad said JCP was looking for a nice person with a business that could use an upgrade. The successor would receive a Mini Cooper, a website, 259 pens, 48 coffee cups, a soda machine and “God knows how many beach flags.”

Who’d want to pick up the name JCP? It’s so specific. But in two weeks, the agency received over 400 requests—including a church founder, a dog hairdresser, an industrial designer, a slew of photographers and web designers, a squash club leader, a kiting instructor and a fruit purée producer.

On why the agency chose Soros, Tynning explains, “He seemed like a genuinely nice guy, and when we found out his business had been struggling for some time, the decision was easy. The way he greeted us, and the look on his face when we handed over the stuff, was definitely worth the long trip.”

The result vibes like a branded take on Pimp My Ride. While we’re hopeful Soros’ business has fresh wind in its sails, we’re also mindful of how much branded swag and promotional material gets wasted, not just after a brand identity shift but after short-running campaigns. In 2006, the promo products industry was worth $16.9 billion.

“Of course it feels nice to have helped another firm with a makeover, but we are also pleased to have found an original way to self-promote JCP,” says JCP Nordic creative director Paul Little, who feels the advertising industry has a hard time “self-medicating” and should take its own advice more often.

“We are in love with our new visual identity, and at the same time very happy that our previous one has received a revival in Romania … and a very worthy new owner,” Little adds.

@luckthelady Angela Natividad is a frequent contributor to Adweek's creativity blog, AdFreak. She is also the author of Generation Creation and co-founder of Hurrah, an esports agency. She lives in Paris and when she isn't writing, she can be found picking food off your plate.