Canadian artist Steven Spazuk has used Zippo lighters in his unconventional art—"painting with fire"—for 14 years.
Zippo collaborated with Spazuk, known as "the Fire Artist," on a video of him employing his "fumage" technique: using the flame of a Zippo windproof lighter to create art. He also dished about the origins of his artistic approach.
The company has also teamed up with Spazuk to create a limited edition lighter featuring his art that will be available in the coming weeks. Zippo AOR DeVries Global is working on the campaign, which is launching in the US, UK, France, Germany, Japan and China.
Zippo marketing manager Amanda DePrins said people often share stories with the company about how its lighters play an interesting role in their lives. But Spazuk’s caught Zippo’s attention, and the company approached the artist for a partnership in the first half of last year.
"We saw his work in a viral video and were all blown away by his creation," said DePrins. "The more we watched it, we realized we had to work with him to create something awesome for Zippo."
Douglas Ruchefsky, senior account supervisor at DeVries Global, explained that Zippo wanted to work with Spazuk in a way that felt natural. The campaign team eventually went to his studio near Montreal to capture his creative process and create compelling content.
Zippo rolled out a teaser video on Monday across its social media pages and released the full video on Wednesday. It includes a "do not try this at home" disclaimer.
The campaign also includes gifs for Zippo's and Spazuk’s social media channels on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, as well as a specially created Zippo U.S. Spazuk campaign page.
Design publication Cool Hunting has also produced editorial content that will go in-depth into the collaboration and showcase the video.
"We are hoping this will make a big impact on our core social media audience," said DePrins. "We have a great following with males aged 18 to 34."
Spazuk said a number of companies have approached him about endorsements, but this is the first time he has agreed to work with a brand.
"I was happy to talk to Zippo because I thought it was a natural fit," said Spazuk, whose art style came to him in a dream. "I always have a Zippo in my tool box. I use it to light up my candles and torch."
Spazuk said he will promote the video and lighter on his Facebook and Instagram pages, and he has made himself available for media interviews.
Budget information was not disclosed.
"Throughout its 85-year history, Zippo has played an integral role in pop culture," said DePrins. "The product has been seen in the hands of influential people from the worlds of fashion, art, music and film. By working with [Spazuk], we are proud to be showcasing art in all of its forms."
How a lighter brand stays relevant in a post-smoking world
Lighters come in handy for so much more than just smoking—from lighting birthday candles to getting a campfire started, said DePrins.
Lighters are an organically included staple in Everyday Carry circles, which DePrins described as individuals who choose to make sure their pockets are filled with useful tools.
"[On social] people lay out their Everyday Carry, and many were tagging Zippo in it," she said. "It is cool we were targeted in this as an everyday useful tool people carry with them. There are always people who need a dependable, pocket-sized source of flame for a number of reasons."
Zippo’s designs are also evolving, with more than 300,000 designs created since 1932, keeping the lighters relevant. Because of this, the brand has an enthusiastic collector base with more than seven active clubs across the US and Europe.
—This article first appeared in PR Week.