British Gas uses real-time data to create ‘stature and intrigue’ for Hive brand

British Gas is feeding real-time messages into outdoor ads to bolster the “stature and interest” for its remote-controlled central heating service Hive as part of a revamped media strategy to reach commuters.

The energy service will take over ads at baggage carousels at Gatwick and Heathrow airports from the end of the month (20 October) to promote how it lets bilpayers control their energy usage using a mobile device.

Ads combine live temperature and flight information to target ads to travellers waiting to collect their baggage. The data is then displayed over a humorous animated clip encouraging people to use the Hive app to remotely set the temperature at home ahead of their arrival.

If a flight has arrived in London from Beijing, for example, passengers will see an ad that reads “Still chilly from Beijing?” before changing to “Get a cosy home from your phone”.

Similar uses of real-time data will feed into ads at train platforms and bus stops across the capital. Additional digital ads will run in high footfall urban areas where people are likely to be heading to and from work.

The outdoor ads are part of the second wave of advertising for the Hive brand since it launched last October.

While still focused on generating awareness, the campaign has shifted from brand building to product-orientated activity to trumpet the mobile service’s latest feature. Users can now set up geo-location-based reminders to change their heating or water temperature at home depending on how close by they are.

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 campaign is steeped in a more data-driven media plan in order to hit target consumers with relevant messages.

More than 100,000 customers have installed Hive in their homes over the last 12 months, says Brown, and upcoming efforts aim to appeal to that existing set and at the same time court potential users.

TV ads, which see the return of the quirky animated line style drawings, extend the product-based theme, while also promoting Hive’s tie-ups with retailers for the first time. In order for the app to work, a Hive Active Heating unit, which is sold at Apple, John Lewis, Curry’s and PC World Maplin stores across the UK, needs to be fitted to boilers.

The business expects its high-street presence to grow into a significant sales channel but declined to reveal internal sales targets. Future retail partnerships are in the pipeline, the business says.

Brown adds the service has had a halo-effect on the British Gas brand, one of the key aims of the marketing for the service.

The campaign is being delivered by out-of-home agency PSI and digital outdoor specialists Liveposter, in conjunction with media owners JC Decaux and EYE Airports .


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