The campaign kicks off today (2 January) to promote the convenience and cost-efficiency of the £199-priced smartphone-controlled central heating system to young professionals at a time when many are planning their finances for the year ahead. The strategy has influenced how the utilities firm structures the CHI and Partners-created campaign with activity being split between the benefits of being able to control energy usage remotely and the claim it can save homeowners up to £150 a year.
An animated line-drawing-style 40-second advert is pushing the first half of the creative plan using a humorous song to depict the lifestyle benefits of the product. It features playful lines such as “You could be chasing Lamas in your pyjamas when the weather goes bananas” and “Go shopping for some trousers with your pet schnauzers” to make the service more resonant with families.
Meanwhile, outdoor and print ads will adopt the same visual theme to highlight the cost savings of the app and encourage readers to visit Hivehome.com for more details. An ECRM campaign targeting the 14 million British Gas customers in the UK will support the main ads alongside VOD and social media promotions.
The flurry of activity marks the arrival of the Hive brand – a family of connected home-type products and services – following its unveil last September. It was supported by a low-key campaign at the time spanning PR, online, direct marketing and social media to drive initial take-up. The company declined to share specific details on how many people had signed up to the service in the months since but claims 30 per cent were billpayers “who would never talk to British Gas” and are now interacting with the brand every three days. Hive sales between October and November were 350 per cent more than those of an earlier version of the service – Remote Heating Control – in the summer, according to British Gas.
Pamela Brown, head of marketing and insight at British Gas Connected Homes – a division of British Gas developing technology to help people monitor and control their energy usage – says the “strong reaction” to the brand has been buoyed by early high advocacy levels for the product. Hive arrived at a tumultuous time for British Gas as customers lambasted the company for price hikes to its bills. Despite the British Gas brand suffering, Brown says Hive has not been impacted thanks in part to the buzz emanating from its nascent online community consisting of advocates and technology influencers.
She adds: “It’s early days but we’re already starting to see high advocacy levels for the product. It’s the culmination of having generated awareness through the social and PR work we’ve done and people becoming more interested in how they can be energy efficient.
“We created a new brand for the service because we wanted people to realise it was available to both British Gas and non-British Gas customers. By using the ‘Hive by British Gas’ line throughout our ads we’re also able to tap into the heritage and dependability of the master brand.”
British Gas is planning further Hive launches throughout 2014 hinting at products that could let families set the temperature for different rooms and manage the energy usage of older relatives remotely. Separately, it will work with start-up firms to develop new services in a similar way to Philips crowdsourcing ideas for its Hue mobile app.