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McCann London and McCann Health London launch Smart Plants

Smart Plants aims to redefine the way we shop online for houseplants - not for their looks but for pollution-absorbing properties

By Creative Salon

McCann London and McCann Health London launch Smart Plants, in collaboration with online plant retailer Plant Drop. Working with University of Oxford botanist, Dr Chris Thorogood, and referring to open-source NASA data, Smart Plants redefines the way we shop online for houseplants - not for their looks but for their smart, pollution-absorbing properties.

Dom Butler, Founder of Plant Drop says, “Our new E-commerce tool transforms the way we shop for plants, instead of buying them based on their looks, people can now buy them based on their lifestyle, whether they’ve moved into a new home, have pets or burn scented candles.”

Plants oxygenate the atmosphere, but few people know that they also have the power to scrub the air of harmful toxins. NASA conducted research to test the pollution-absorbing power of houseplants with the aim of bringing them into the International Space Station so astronauts could breathe cleaner air. Inspired by this research and working with Dr Chris Thorogood, Deputy Director and Head of Science at the University of Oxford Botanic Garden and Arboretum, McCann London and McCann Health London have created a system that categorises everyday houseplants that can help remove specific toxins from the home for Plant Drop.

Dr Chris Thorogood, Deputy Director and Head of Science at the University of Oxford Botanic Garden and Arboretum says: “Plants are natural smart filters for indoor pollutants. They do what's called phytoremediation, which means they’re able to remove pollution and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the air that we can’t see. Nature has been tried and tested by evolution for hundreds of millions of years, so what better solution can there be for a natural air purifier?”

The five main pollutants identified within the home are xylene, trichlorethylene, benzene, formaldehyde and ammonia. A simple and intuitive design system called the “Pollutant Absorption System’ was established to identify which of the five pollutants each houseplant removes from the air, allowing people to buy plants based on their lifestyle and living situation. The Pollutant Absorption System - displayed on labels and tags inside each plant pot – and brought to life via a simple questionnaire, makes it easy for customers to find a plant that suits their needs.

Rob Doubal, Co-Chief Creative Officer of McCann UK and Co-President McCann London says, “Most people live in connected smart homes, but the Pollutant Absorption System helps mother nature to play an active role in regulating and improving our homes. By integrating the system within the e-commerce shopping experience a few simple lifestyle questions can serve up the plants that are best suited for your living needs, meaning you’re buying plants based on what they can do for your home environment rather than just how they look on the bookshelf.”

Guy Swimer, Executive Creative Director of McCann Health London, adds, “Revisiting NASA’s research and teaming up with leading botanists across the world to identify the pollution-tackling properties of each plant was a detailed process. Our hope is that more nurseries and retailers adopt the Pollutant Absorption System, so we can all become better informed about the health benefits plants can bring.”


Client: Plant Drop

Creative Agency: McCann London

Health Agency: McCann Health London

Production: Craft Worldwide

Creative Agency: McCann London

Rob Doubal, CCO & Co-President

Laurence Thomson, CCO & Co-President

Polly McMorrow, CEO

Jemima Monies, COO

Jamie Mietz, Executive Creative Director

Sanjiv Mistry, Executive Creative Director

William Cottam, Creative Director

James Crosby, Creative Director

Lisa Carrana, Head of Design

Max Henderson, Design Director

Clementine Cuthbertson, Marketing Partner

Debbie Simmonds, Executive Assistant

Mattias Sundell, Senior Project Manager

Ruben Mathiason, Junior Project Manager

Health Agency: McCann Health London, an IPG Health company

Adrian Parr, European Creative Director

Guy Swimer, ECD

Jonathan Kukathasan, President

Alex Frew, Managing Director

James Rose, Creative

Shaun Clarkson, UX Lead

Alvin Wu, UX Designer

Ciara McGowan, Producer

Neil Kaas, Creative Services Director

Amy Pedrick, Scientific Copy Director

Laura Kickham, Senior Scientific Copywriter

Anthony Boulton, Design Director

Louise Ringrose, Communications & PR Director (IPG Health UK)

Mitch Brock, Creative

Freddie Wood, Creative

Production: Craft Worldwide

Pedro Pinto, Head of Post-Production

Lisa Cawthorne, Post Producer

Nicola Haffenden, Junior Post Producer

Matthew Dollings, Editor

Antonin Bonafus, Editor

Mandeep Kalsi, Researcher

Jazz Casey, Researcher

Hayley Littlewood, Business Affairs Manager

Val Boyce, Business Affairs Manager


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