OVO Energy

Breaking climate crisis inertia and reigniting interest in home energy by bringing a nation together to show What We Can Do.

Brand Strategy. Creative Platform. TVC. OOH. Social. Content.

Business Challenge.

When OVO Energy led the green-energy revolution in 2009, after decades of energy brands coming bottom of trust and interest reports and customer inertia consistently ranking amongst the highest of any consumer category, the world finally had something to get excited about when it came to the people behind the power in our homes.

However, fast forward 10 years and not only had the green-energy sector become saturated but the big five had caught up and even they were stealing a march with climate-conscious tariffs and promises of green-tech revolutions. 

By this time, the early adopters and hardcore climate-conscious had long been signed up and ‘green-energy’ continued to struggle on the price-point battleground that customer acquisition was fought. It was dearer than fossil fuel and, at the end of the day, the promise of helping people help the planet wasn’t enough - in the face of austerity - to overcome the prevailing thought ‘what difference can I really make when the world’s problems are so overwhelming?’.

Comms Challenge.

As if the challenge of increasing awareness and improving acquisition in one of our lowest-interest categories isn’t hard enough, when you can’t compete on price and your one USP has been eroded by competition, it’s a task few would relish and in fact most would avoid.

But for all of that, alongside a like-minded client team as fiercely passionate about sustainability as we are, we embraced the challenge and set about asking ourselves the question that sits at the heart of it all… “what can we say to make people care about where their energy comes from?”

Creative Solution

At the beginning, we set about moving the brand away from the conventions of home-energy marketing, giving ourselves permission to reject the annual calendar of switching moments, and the pressure of fighting a price war we couldn’t win. Instead, we put our faith in brand building and a shared belief that longer term emotional connection with OVO Energy would out-perform shorter-term, promiscuous switching; we just needed a place to start rebuilding from. 

When asked, 80% of Britons are concerned about environmental issues (Opinium 2019) and most agree we need to take action to combat the climate crisis. Unfortunately, the reality is few of them actually go on to take any action to do so. Our research revealed a fundamental cause lurking behind this apparent inertia: 28% of people “feel helpless when it comes to reducing their negative impact on the environment.” And with that, we had our enemy. 

Inspired by a 20-year-old climate activist who Tweeted at the time: “The greatest threat we face is not climate change, but the helplessness we feel in the face of it.”, we knew we needed to create a sense of ‘collective people power’ to combat this feeling of helplessness. 

We would show people that, with OVO Energy leading the charge, the smallest of actions, and some larger ones, could add up to impactful, positive, visible change. We would show them that they weren’t alone, but part of a bigger group of people that were also putting positive change before a few pounds and pence and who also rejected the notion that the individual can’t make an impact on the whole. Together, we would hold a powerful mirror up to the world to demonstrate “What We Can Do.”

First off, we put a lot of work into humanising the brand, shifting focus from supplier to consumer. ‘Customers’ became ‘members’, members became a community. They were the heroes of our campaign work, from TVC to OOH, from social channels to website. Large impact OOH sites were used to plant a flag of intent in the sand, they featured OVO members with planet-positive slogans across their faces - ‘Change Climate Change’, ‘Live Carbon Zero’ and ‘We Can Reduce Our Footprints’. The body language of positive protest but voices of real people creating a movement. People like you, like us, like everybody we know; people that had already chosen to do something to help.

TVC campaigning followed shortly after, again featuring real OVO members, but in their homes this time, all standing up for change, showing us that if they can do it, anyone can do it. Set to a rousing call-to-arms offering hope and an easy first step to reducing one’s carbon footprint.

In social channels, we met the faces behind the advertising. We heard their stories, we learned why climate change was important to them and what they were doing day-by-day, at the level of individual, to do their bit. We championed simple changes to daily routine that would add up to meaningful reduction in carbon and we celebrated the oldest of all carbon-busting technologies by exploring OVO’s tree-planting commitments in film. 

With the movement established and a renewed sense of empowerment amongst OVO members, we introduced a hard-working campaign to the marketing mix to drive relevance even wider. Where phase one was all about the big picture, Great British Weather, Powering Great British Homes turned attention to the more mundane moments of our lives, the little moments of daily life that we give little thought to but that collectively, are having a significant impact on the panet. 

Looking for a quintessentially British creative angle, something everyone could relate to, we just couldn’t get past the relationship between the Great British weather’s role in generating renewables and our obsession with complaining about it. With that in mind, we established a long-term partnership with C4 Weather and set about writing a series of sponsorship spots that knowingly nodded to the unpredictability of our weather but celebrated its ability to power our homes nonetheless. Great British Weather, Powering Great British Homes had fun with people being caught out by the weather, but resolved any misfortune with home comforts powered of course, by OVO Energy. 

This strategy has been at the heart of everything OVO Energy has done since 2019. Internally and externally, the power of collective change has guided the organisation. Whether that’s work to promote new technologies, raise brand awareness, develop direct response marketing or simply frame the Plan Zero mission, we have felt extremely proud to have played a part in the brand’s journey.


OVO Energy

Breaking climate crisis inertia and reigniting interest in home energy by bringing a nation together to show What We Can Do.

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