Ad Nut
Jan 3, 2023

TBWA/Hakuhodo turns scallop shells into helmets

The Japanese-designed 'shellmets' combine sustainability, safety and aesthetics to make us feel better about scallop fishing. Now if only we could improve life in the sea...

TBWA/Hakuhodo turns scallop shells into helmets

The village of Sarufutsu in Japan's Soya district, is known for its shellfish industry.  As such, it churns out about 40,000 tons of empty shells each year which piles up in huge mounds. 

Working with Koshi Chemical Industry Co. and Osaka University, TBWA Hakuhodo has come up with a novel way to recycle not only the shell materials, but also the very intention of shells as a means of protection.

While not very successful at protecting scallops from humans, some of them will be given a chance to protect the very humans who harvest them from harm. The agency says it discovered that the main component in scallop shells, calcium carbonate, can be broken down into pellets and powder through a process of boiling, sterilising and crushing that can be combined with recycled plastic and reformed into protective gear—a 'shellmet'.

These helmets not only recreate the look of a scallop shell to pay homage to their material origins and for aesthetics (their design is beautiful) but the agency maintains that the ribbed formation of the shellmets actually provide better protection with 33% more strength and 30% more durability that regular helmet design. They also maintain that the shellmets used 36% less CO2 to produce than new plastic helmets and 20% less than eco-plastic helmets. 

Japanese fishers wearing shellmets

So, who will wear them?  About 270 fishers in Sarufutsu wear plastic helmets every day. Shellmet's producers say they will promote the new helmets to the fishery through trials beginning this spring.  They will also be stocked for disaster prevention programs and members of the public can order them in five colours: beige, black, blue, white and pink for JPY4,800 (US$36.99). One might say protection from head injuries never looked so good before.

In the end, Ad Nut suspects that sadly the most value from this product still lies in its PR. Looking at the huge mounds of scallop shells piled up outside Sarufutsu, one cannot help but feel that the bigger issue here is not about "soil contamination" and "marine waste" but is about what removing all this shellfish from the ocean is doing to the marine environment. 

Wasted scallop shells near Sarufutsu

But this is not an attempt to solve fishery sustainability as a whole, and any attempt to use more of the discarded 'waste' materials in any industry is worth applauding. We just need to see shellmets become popular enough to be integrated into daily use for safety, without becoming so massively popular (as motorcycle helmets, for instance) that we end up farming animals for their shell materials.

It's a fine balance, isn't it?


Chief Creative Director: Takahiro Hosoda
Creative Director:  Masatoshi Usami
Senior Art Director: Yuhei Ito
Art Director: Takeshi Matsuda
PR Planner: Kyosuke Hashimoto
PR Planner: Suguru Kato
Producer: Yuki Sakamoto
Producer: Omu Inoue

Product Designer: Shintaro Monden (quantum)
CAD Modeling: Minatsu Takekoshi (quantum)
Director: Kohei Inoue (Robot Communications)
Photographer: Junya Taguchi (Freelance)
Designer: Hisahiro Tomonaga (spice)
Retoucher: Takumu Koshiba (CONTRAST Inc)
PR Promoter: Eri Sato (KMC)
PR Promoter: Takayuki Tamada (KMC)

Ad Nut is a surprisingly literate woodland creature that for unknown reasons has an unhealthy obsession with advertising. Ad Nut gathers ads from all over Asia and the world for your viewing pleasure, because Ad Nut loves you. You can also check out Ad Nut's Advertising Hall of Fame, or read about Ad Nut's strange obsession with 'murderous beasts'.


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