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‘Energy Wasting Day’ April Fool viral campaign

‘Energy Wasting Day’ April Fool viral campaign

Background.

'Together’ (together.com) is a consumer engagement campaign which helps UK households reduce CO2 emissions by one tonne over three years.

Many of the UK's favourite brands are united behind the campaign to provide millions of customers with a growing range of new products and ideas that make it easier or more affordable to reduce their CO2 emissions.

Campaign partners include B&Q, Barclaycard, British Gas, BSkyB, Marks & Spencer, More Th>n, National Express, O2 and Tesco.  The campaign is also supported by The Mayor of London, The Church of England, the Energy Saving Trust, Defra, the National Consumer Council, Live Earth and Stop Climate Chaos.

Initiatives are detailed on together.com where the collective reduction in emissions is calculated based on partner sales data.   The campaign was launched in 2007 and has been endorsed by former UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair and former US Vice President, Al Gore.

Challenge

Our research on ‘Consumers, Brands and Climate Change’ conducted in 2007 showed that while there was a growing portion of the population who were seriously committed to becoming greener, for a lot of us (26% according to our research) the message is only going to get across if it is made a bit warmer, more fashionable and a lot more fun.

Strategy

Together’s ‘Energy Wasting Day’ campaign is a spoof with a serious intention and has two main objectives in mind:
1. To find an entertaining way to show how ridiculous it is to waste energy
2. To use the ‘viral effect’ to begin to raise interest in Together with a web savvy audience

Implementation

In the run up to April Fool’s Day, Together seeded a viral film on the internet featuring the extremely wasteful ‘Dan Power’.  It showed Dan overfilling his kettle, driving a 4x4 and warming up his ‘undercrackers’ in the tumble dryer.

For those who dig a little further beneath the surface, it becomes apparent that consumer climate change campaign

The energywastingday.com URL appearing at the end of the ad links through to together.com where it is explained that: “Dan Power, the energy wasting guy, is our April Fool – and he really is a fool.

"A ‘grade A’ fool. OK, we know he’s kind of funny, but people like him are messing with our planet every day…the fact is, it’s never been easier to SAVE energy. Together is a campaign which gives you easy ways to fight climate change”

Results

The film has proved hugely popular and at time of writing has been viewed more than 400,000 times and has featured prominently on sites including Myspace, MSN, Yahoo, Treehugger, GreenDaily.com, Smart Planet, Hippyshopper as well as numerous blogs. 

It has also provoked considerable debate from web users as to whether the energy wasting day initiative is a hoax or not:

“I want his t-shirt, by the way don’t show this to Americans...they will think it’s real..............”
“Keep up the good work Dan. You’re a hero for us all.”
“Irony is a beautiful thing. This is a good bit of work showing how stupid energy wasting is.”

This campaign has already delivered a dramatic increase in the number of visitors to Together.com (up approximately fivefold to date) as well as significant media attention on influential blogs such as Treehugger, in news sources including Metro and on marketing news sites.

Energy Wasting Day is well on course to become one of the most successful environmental virals of all time and Dan Power in now set to feature in three further films, one in conjunction with Myspace to promote their Impact channel, a spoof ‘apology’ which will go out on April Fools Day itself and a film to promote Together’s next initiative, an online ‘Eco-confessions’ tool.

This success, and the fact that the campaign is continuing to gain momentum, strongly supports Together’s decision to go viral and to use quite sophisticated, even counter-intuitive, humour to communicate their message.

Campaign Director of Together, David Hall, said, “For a film to truly go viral and take on a life of its own is the holy grail of online marketing and this time we’ve been lucky enough to have made that happen.

“Clearly showing someone wasting huge amounts of energy isn’t a natural thing for a climate change campaign to do.  But what we have found is that if you entertain them and use a bit of humour, consumers are prepared to go with you.

“We wanted to provide a balance to some of the more serious, po-faced and frankly rather dull communications about climate change.  And by keeping people guessing rather than revealing all in the film itself we have managed to create genuine debate across the web.”

Initiatives planned by Together later this year include an eco-confessions theme in April, where Dan Power will again appear but this time dressed as a priest and a record breaking run which will be officially announced in June.

The first birthday of the campaign will take place in May and is due to be attended by senior political figures as well as the CEOs of Together’s corporate partner companies.

Together is Britain’s biggest climate change campaign and in the eleven months since launch has already saved nearly 440,000 tonnes of CO2 via a series of easy solutions promoted though nine corporate partners.

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