THURSDAY 15 FEB 2018 11:08 AM


Supporting its commitment to renewable energy and electric vehicle proliferation, E.ON has crafted a new film through an all-electric production. Amy Sandys reports

In early December 2017, a video emerged showing what appeared to be the final few hours of a polar bear’s life on Canada’s Baffin Island. Close to death through lack of food and desperately trying to salvage scraps from a bin, the polar bear’s plight in an iceless environment touched hearts across the world.

While shocking, this case is not unique. As overall average temperatures rise, the effect of climate change on wildlife, climate, sea levels and the bionetwork are starker. The energy mix is growing, but continued use of fossil fuels for heavy industry, transport and development continues to contribute to global issues such as rapid ice melt. And with the global human ecosystem increasingly characterised by a lack of trust in supranational governments, charities and other non-corporate organisations, it falls to business to highlight not only the impact of such global shift – but solutions, too.

As a brand imbued with the benefits of introducing an energy mix into the world’s transport industry, global energy supplier E.ON is the latest corporate organisation to take up the mantle. Combining E.ON’s experience-driven brand promise with the sustainability at its heart, its latest campaign sees the energy supplier team up with global marketing services network Engine to create a film, ‘Freedom is Electric.’ The result reflects the brand’s commitment to a fossil fuel-free future; it challenges the perception of electric cars as a less viable alternative than traditional fossil fuel-driven motors.

But for Matthias Gray, senior strategist at the Engine Group, this is only the beginning – real change happens only when E.ON engages audiences away from its traditional customer base. “E.ON is an innovative and consumer-focused utility brand, delivering experiences for its customers through sustainable, future-proof energy solutions,” says Gray. “We want to shift brand perception for everybody, and we particularly want to engage B2B and B2C passion audiences, for example those interested in technology or sustainable living.”

As a result, the film includes the world’s only electricity-driven monster truck and vehicles, loaned by their owners, that are traditionally considered to be ‘gas guzzlers.’ Another interesting feature includes the engine sounds carefully recreated using electric guitars and the all-electric film production, which includes camera rigs, tracking vehicles and drones. E.ON’s commitment to creating a petrol-free film extends throughout its entire composition. Anthony Ainsworth, global head of marketing at E.ON, says involving real people and real vehicles was an integral part of the E.ON brand reappraisal signalled by the film. “By bringing together these amazing vehicles and their equally passionate and inspiring owners, we wanted to help people to reconsider what they think they know about motoring, how they view energy and what they think about E.ON,” he says.

‘Freedom is Electric’ also signals a recognition by E.ON that futureproofing the energy industry requires a tactical approach. It is not enough to simply espouse the virtues of developing an energy mix – energy companies must deliver on their brand promises, says Ainsworth. “In the same way as we’ve transformed our company over the last couple of years, we’re working to transform our brand to represent the help we can give our customers today and in the future,” he says.

Communicating its sustainable credentials through innovative campaigns such as ‘Freedom is Electric’ is key to E.ON’s ability to drive audience engagement. It also indicates the brand’s support of individual energy needs and commitment to be a transformative business in a world that, while striving towards a mixture of energy solutions, is often challenged at a supranational level. “The film works as a brand shaper that tells E.ON’s new brand story, gaining share of voice within the digital space through highly sharable, engaging content,” adds Gray. “E.ON wants to own the conversation around the topic through emphasis on content.”

For Engine’s part, this meant challenging E.ON’s conventions in a creative way. The result is a film campaign that itself challenges energy convention, daring even the most committed petrolheads to cast a negative eye over the aesthetic and environmental benefits of electricity-driven vehicles.

And, with the addition of hundreds of E.ON electric vehicle charging points across Europe and the UK, claims around the difficulties of finding electric car chargers no longer hold weight. “E.ON is a brand that truly believes in driving change in its industry,” says Debbie Klein, CEO of Engine Europe and Asia. It’s lucky for the environment and future generations that this extends to ensuring those committed to the cause can travel as easily as those with petrol engines.

Communicating the benefits of electric cars is a big stance for a company ostensibly centred around the traditional industry of energy provision, but E.ON remains convinced that taking a future-facing stance will benefit the brand while benefitting the world. And as for sceptics accusing E.ON of ‘greenwashing,’ E.ON has always made its mission to be at the forefront of heightening clean energy provisions in a rapidly developing world. “This isn’t about greenwashing, but demonstrating a leading role in the emerging ‘new energy world,’ says Gray. “The growth of sustainable energy solutions and the rise of e-mobility has always been at the forefront of this. E.ON wants to be involved in these conversations.”

For Ainsworth, more than anything else ‘Freedom is Electric’ is integral in how E.ON differentiates itself from what he describes as the “Boring, predictable energy company of the past.” While it may be too late for Baffin Island’s polar bear, both E.ON and Engine are invested in demonstrating how a corporate commitment to the environment can have as commendable results as a charity or governmental intervention. Ainsworth adds, “This film is about bringing that to life and showing that energy is something you can really engage with and it genuinely adds value to your lives.”

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