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Special Project

Special Project
From the 16th Annual Shorty Awards

Subway Surfers x PlanetPlay x J Balvin

Audience Honor in Gaming


There are over 3 billion active gamers around the world, and the gaming industry has an immense opportunity to tackle today’s most challenging issues. With over 4 billion lifetime downloads and over 150 million monthly active players, Subway Surfers has a unique platform to not only raise widespread awareness, but inspire action in the fight against climate change. Sustainability and climate preservation have been a long-time priority for SYBO – the Danish games studio behind the hit mobile game – who has utilized strategic partnerships, in-game activations, and social media campaigns to launch green initiatives in an authentic way that resonates with players. 

Most recently in November 2023, SYBO partnered with PlanetPlay and global superstar J Balvin for a first-of-its-kind in-game and social campaign that supported various global environmental projects aiming to offset carbon emissions. Between Subway Surfers’ and J Balvin’s global fanbases, as well as PlanetPlay’s climate-conscious game marketplace, the partnership presented an ability to not only reach millions of people a day and spark meaningful environmental action.

Strategy and Execution

Leveraging the immense combined reach of Subway Surfers and J Balvin, the partnership aimed to raise awareness and offset carbon emissions by bringing the hit musician to life as an all-new playable character within the game for the very first time. A portion of the proceeds from Balvin’s in-game character purchases were then donated through PlanetPlay’s platform to the Hongera Clean Cookstove Project, a non-profit that aims to mitigate CO2 emissions with the distribution of clean and energy-efficient cookstoves to regions in Kenya. After purchasing the character, players can redeem “green coins” from PlanetPlay’s digital marketplace to use towards additional in-game items. 

Additionally, the collaboration extended to limited edition t-shirts with designs inspired by J Balvin, available through PlanetPlay’s storefront. Each purchase came bundled with a tangible carbon emissions reduction, starting at a minimum of 100 kg CO2, allowing individuals to visibly contribute to a healthier planet. 

Balvin’s character was available for a span of three weeks, and re-launched for a limited edition as a surprise to fans for another three weeks in January 2024. His hit single – “Dientes,” featuring DJ Khaled and Usher – was additionally available in-game for fans to enjoy while playing. Players were also given the opportunity to participate through social media, where Subway Surfers challenged its Instagram community to beat Balvin’s high score in the game. One lucky winner received a signed prize from Balvin, in-game rewards, and more. 

Through a savvy mix of interactive in-game features, social media engagement, and exclusive IRL merchandise, the multi-faceted campaign seamlessly and holistically weaved in sustainability messaging and calls to action through various touchpoints. The campaign empowered players to be active participants in the fight against climate change, but via approachable avenues of gameplay and expression of fandom for their favorite musical artist.


SYBO and PlanetPlay were able to offset over 2,000 tons of carbon emissions in the campaign’s three-week run, the equivalent of a concert with nearly 100,000 guests. Due to its immense success and the player appetite, the two launched a surprise, limited-time re-activation of J Balvin’s character in January 2024.

The activation received an overwhelmingly positive response and engagement from SYBO’s global player base, resulting in an estimated three years of collective run time with Balvin’s character alone. Throughout the event, players who purchased the J Balvin character made roughly three times more runs than the average player. The activation collectively reached over 10 million fans in total across all social media channels, generating a positive sentiment toward running together for a greener world.


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