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Making a taboo disappear

What do you call a straw that can break down toxic consumer perceptions?


Nothing stood out when we first encountered this trailblazing straw. Indistinguishable from a regular single-use – and increasingly taboo – plastic straw, its superpowers were disguised.

phade straws

We honed the brand creation around what was most remarkable: the first straw made from PHA, a naturally occurring biopolymer derived from canola oil.

This innovative material mimics the performance of regular plastic, so it holds up strong in drinks – unlike soggy paper alternatives that rushed to market. Best of all it replaced the most troubling elements of plastic straws with eco-friendly benefits: marine biodegradable and home compostable, with no special facilities required.
phade logo
phade straws

The name had to be as remarkable as PHA itself: ownable, relevant, believable, and sustainable for the long-term viability of the brand.

Enter phade, with “pha” leading right at the front. The name evokes the greater lifestyle and planetary benefits without being tied to the specific form of the first product: a straw. A name positioned to make waves in foodservice.

There’s green, then there’s greenwashing. phade needed a color that evoked its ocean-friendly benefits in a new, energetic way. phade blue became the color of the straw – and the phade movement.

phade print ad

The full brand aesthetics added rich context to highlight the idea of fading away, wherever the straws may end up. Since the brand was launched in tandem with product development, early messaging implied the brand essence without showing the product itself.

We soon translated the fully-fleshed brand into a robust digital presence with e-commerce capabilities. Layering in community social management and paid advertisements to increase trial and purchases.

phade website

It was time to facilitate fan-building conversations between foodservice operators and their customers. We armed the sales force with a compelling set of table tents, coasters, posters, and more. Turning the invisible benefits of phade into a tangible call to action.

phade table tents

And big digital results completed the win:

Built a new Facebook business page that gained 3,500 followers in 2 months using a successful paid growth campaign

Reached 576,000 individuals, generated 68K clicks and drove a 7.53% engagement rate

Launched a 5-day paid awareness-building YouTube campaign resulting in a 22.73% view rate with over 8,800 completed views and 510 clicks

Set up and ran a Google Search campaign with a 6% click-through rate, resulting in 55% of web traffic and 40% of total conversions


“NK has been instrumental in the creation and launch of the phade brand. Their team has leveraged deep insights within the Foodservice industry to develop a winning strategy and compelling creative to launch the phade brand and set it up for long term success. Their work has enhanced and supported our sales and marketing strategies when we launched the brand in 2020 and I would recommend the NK team to any company looking to launch a brand in this industry.”

Michael Adams | Sr. Director, Innovation, Sustainability & Marketing | WinCup