PR Case Study: DeVries Global – Zippo Flame Art

PR Case Study: DeVries Global – Zippo Flame Art

DeVries Global enlisted fire artist Steven Spazuk to help lighter brand Zippo expand its appeal as something more than a lighter to millennial men.

Campaign: Zippo Flame Art
Client: Zippo
PR Team: DeVries Global, led out of the London office
Timing: February 2017


DeVries Global enlisted renowned fire artist Steven Spazuk – a pioneer of one-of-a-kind art technique called fumage – to collaborate with Zippo and shine a light on the brand’s design credentials.

The campaign centered around a content series which showcased the Zippo lighter in an unexpected way to cement the brand’s ongoing cultural relevance.


The puzzle for DeVries was to ensure Zippo continued to resonate culturally while also appealing to a new generation of millennial men. It sought to reframe thinking about Zippo beyond its original functionality as a cigarette lighter.

Strategy and implementation

As the brand approached its 85th anniversary, DeVries created a global-reaching comms campaign to introduce a new generation of millennial males to the mystique of Zippo, transforming a Zippo lighter from a work of art into a creator and enabler of art.

The team enlisted fire artist Steven Spazuk, a pioneer of a one-of-a-kind art technique called fumage, which creates art with fire.

Six months ahead of launch, the agency organised an invitation-only pop-up art exhibit in New York. “The Art of Zippo” featured standout Zippo lighter art through the decades and began to introduce Spazuk to lifestyle media and influencers.

DeVries chose to showcase the artist’s process and story in a series of videos, using social, earned and owned channels to amplify the highly visual story. Spazuk narrated a series of videos which captured the creative process.

A Zippo lighter was promoted as Spazuk’s tool of choice through three content videos, including a 30-second teaser and a behind-the-scenes feature, but otherwise the videos were lightly branded for authenticity and credibility.

The agency conducted extensive outreach to men’s style and lifestyle outlets, along with general interest media, and offered interviews with Spazuk and brand leaders, ultimately securing earned media coverage in 14 countries.

The finishing touch was production of a limited edition windproof Zippo lighter featuring an exclusive Steven Spazuk original fire art design. This gave the media something tangible to direct their readers to and succinctly tied the campaign back to the brand.


The campaign captured global attention, with media in 14 countries covering the story and social engagement which spread rapidly across all platforms. Some 380 stories – 100% branded, highly positive and still coming in almost a year later – have delivered an audience reach of 765 million to date. Many of these were full-page features.

The video series achieved 2.5 million views and helped propel more than 15 million social impressions across the brand’s accounts. On Facebook, the campaign earned a 20% engagement rate, making it the most successful Zippo social campaign to-date.

The special edition lighter quickly sold out and following its success a new line of Steven Spazuk Zippo lighters has been launched.

The Zippo Flame Art campaign was recognised with two Platinum MarCom Awards and is nominated for the PR Week Global Award for Global Creative Idea, due to be announced in May.

Related Posts
PR News in Brief
PR news round-up (5-16 November)
Here’s a bumper round-up of the last two weeks’ PR news, featuring our CommsCon content, the PRCA National Awards and wins for Smarts Communicate and Citypress. [...]
Cision Innovation Lab will provide the science to complement communicators’ art
Cision Innovation Lab will provide the science to complement communicators’ art
The Cision Innovation Lab is developing technology to fuel the future of PR and comms, Cision’s, David Barker, president of data solutions and innovation, and Kaila Garrison, [...]
CommsCon What journalists want
Daily Mirror’s Nada Farhoud: The relationship is the most important thing
Taking the time to build and maintain relationships is the key ingredient to successful PR-journalist relations. That was one of the key takeaways from the What journalists [...]
KFC’s Jenny Packwood: Fill the crisis communications vacuum with positive news
KFC’s Jenny Packwood: Fill the vacuum with positive news
No one seeks a crisis, but being ready for one is imperative when disaster strikes, a packed audience was informed during the Crisis killers: a reputation management [...]