Weathering the competition
Campaign: Renewing energy
Client: Nu Energy
Platform: Multi Channel Network
Nu Energy is one of Australia’s leading renewable solution companies, with a 25-year history of selling and installing solar. With more and more consumers turning to renewable energy, one of its main challenges has been maintaining brand differentiation within a field of other leading solar providers, including Clear Solar, The Solar Shop and Modern Solar.
Nu Energy-commissioned research revealed that, while saving money on bills is a key motivator in choosing a solar solutions company, brand trust is also a driving factor.
Nu Energy and its media agency Mindshare teamed up with the Multi Channel Network (MCN) and The Weather Channel to position the renewable energy company as a category leader through a 12-month integrated campaign.
The aim was also to highlight the value of solar energy in reducing energy bills and its positive impact on the environment every day of the year – with the ultimate objective of improving consideration levels and brand perceptions of Nu Energy.
Australians live their lives by climate and weather measures. Indicators are included in daily weather reports via television, radio, online and newspapers. Some marketers are leveraging these metrics to place their brand in relevant environments, such as the Zyrtec pollen tracker and the SunSmart UV Alert.
Nu Energy sought to leverage The Weather Channel’s reputation as being a leading authority in up-to-the-minute local, state and national weather news.
A Nu Energy-commissioned survey of subscription TV viewers found that The Weather Channel is perceived as being dependable, authoritative, trustworthy and reliable. Almost a third of respondents (32 percent) use the channel to get an update on the weather more often than weather reports on television news (23 percent), weather websites (20 percent), weather reports on the radio (eight percent), a website via the mobile phone (three percent) or smartphone app (five percent). The Weather Channel thus provided Nu Energy with a complementary environment to reinforce and build those similar brand values.
To help achieve this goal, a 12-month integrated campaign, which commenced in April 2010, saw The Weather Channel and Multi Channel Network create two media firsts on the channel: The Big Report and the Solar Exposure Report.
The Big Report saw Nu Energy deliver branded school packs with thermometers and online tutorials to schools around Australia. Simulcast across The Weather Channel and Nickelodeon – a leading entertainment brand for children – in a 10-minute broadcast, the idea was to bring schools across the country together in an attempt to hold the world’s largest interactive weather report.
There was also a need to inspire consumers to switch to solar and demonstrate that the sun captures power every day of the year, even during winter. An on-air and online Solar Exposure Report was created, using daily Australian Bureau of Meteorology data to demonstrate the amount of solar energy that can be captured from the sun using solar panels.
The Solar Exposure Report was distinctive and innovative, because, while solar energy levels are tracked daily by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, prior to this campaign, no media had included this data within their weather reports.
Nu Energy had 100 percent exclusive ownership of the report, including logo association for the entire duration of each report, verbal category and brand mentions, and TVC adjacency.
The target audience of the campaign consisted of homeowners, predominantly female, aged 40-plus with disposable incomes. These were ‘dark green’, environmentally conscious consumers looking for more information before making a decision to purchase renewable products.
This target market also consisted of people looking to buy, sell, renovate or develop property, while actively attending trade shows and searching online for information and inspiration. These people tend to be well-researched on the offers within the market and are looking for reliability, trustworthy and reputable brands.
Secondary targets also included homeowners with high disposable incomes, with an interest in weather and non-commercial television.
Three different forms of communications were used to activate the Nu Energy campaign, including on-air, online and on-ground.
On-air, The Weather Channel created a specialised daily Nu Energy Solar Exposure Report. Each day for 12 months until April 2011, the channel produced an updated 60-second report using Australian Bureau of Meteorology information. The report included a heat-sensor map demonstrating the amount of solar energy that could be captured from the sun using solar panels. Red indicated high exposure (up to 39 megajoules of power per square metre), orange medium (20 megajoules) and purple low exposure.
Extending beyond TV screens, The Weather Channel developed a dedicated Nu Energy Solar Report on its website. It included the solar exposure heat map, branded mentions and banner ad adjacency. Nu Energy was also included in The Weather Channel’s weekend newsletters, which went out to 28,000 subscribers with specific price offers.
And on-ground, to further strengthen its association with The Weather Channel, Nu Energy provided branded thermometers to 502 schools. Australian schools were asked to register and make a submission outlining why The Weather Channel and its senior meteorologist should visit their school.
Students were educated on the value of renewable energy and schools were asked to record the temperature in their areas and report through to the channel. As part of the world record challenge, students were shown the best way to take the temperature, with The Weather Channel featuring pictures of students getting involved. There were schools from every corner of the country, including Stanwell State School in Queensland, Araluen Christian College in Alice Springs Northern Territory, Duval High School in Armidale New South Wales, Hurlstone Agricultural High School in Glenfield New South Wales, St John’s School in Silkwood Queensland and Healesville High School in Victoria.
An online quantitative survey of subscription TV viewers evaluating the effectiveness of the campaign revealed an 11 percent uplift in business leads for Nu Energy. The Solar Exposure Reports reinforced credibility and trust felt towards the brand, with over 70 percent of subscription TV viewers surveyed finding the reports “very informative” and nearly 40 percent associating Nu Energy with being “environmental”.
Over the period of the campaign, the Solar Exposure Reports also led to improved brand perceptions and consideration levels, with 38 percent of respondents viewing Nu Energy as a “leading provider of solar panels”, while 30 percent said they would consider Nu Energy when next buying solar products.
Also, around 38 percent of subscription TV viewers surveyed said they watched the Solar Report, of which 73 percent found it informative. Around 87 percent of those who had already installed solar in their home found the reports to be highly valuable and passed the information on to others.
Meanwhile, The Big Report saw 502 Australian schools take part to successfully break the Guinness World Record by holding the world’s largest interactive weather report. The previous world record was held by the UK’s BBC TV, which involved 261 schools across the UK.
An adjudicator from the Guinness World Records joined The Weather Channel on-air to oversee The Big Report challenge and presented the channel with a Guinness World Record certificate. The Weather Channel and Nu Energy’s record-breaking attempt received extensive PR, with over 90 press articles.
The 12-month integrated campaign proved successful in reaching a wide audience, from environmentally conscious homeowners, to schoolchildren across the country. While the Solar Exposure Reports positioned Nu Energy as an information destination for viewers, The Big Report further broadened Nu Energy’s appeal as an educational resource by engaging schoolchildren and teaching them about the value of renewable energy in a fun and interactive way.