How Octopus Energy used art to get people to switch to green energy

Octopus Energy used art to inspire people to take action on climate change resulting in an additional 37,000 new customers.

Seeking to put clear water between itself and competitors, Octopus Energy employed the power of art to raise awareness of climate change. Its ‘Portraits from the Precipice’ campaign launched in November 2019 to encourage more consumers to switch to green energy deals.

The launch was scheduled to coincide with a meeting of world leaders at the UN Climate Change Conference. Octopus worked with artists from around the world to create high impact impressions of climate change, and ran them as digital out-of-home (DOOH) displays at 5,000 sites. The activity became the world’s biggest ever DOOH art exhibition.

Octopus’s marketing had traditionally focused on the three big reasons for customers switching to the brand: customer service, fair and transparent pricing, and 100% renewable energy. But it identified an opportunity to go further with a campaign to raise public awareness of climate issues on a wider scale.

The campaign was designed to inspire everyone to take action over climate change, as well as enhancing the brand’s reputation and growing its customer numbers.

A global roster of artists created works answering the brief ‘What does climate change mean to you?’ A collaborative approach with Artfinder and DOOH partner JCDecaux provided support in terms of sourcing art and designing the presentation, while the Royal Society of Arts/Royal Academy gave the first annual Climate Change Art Prize (0f £10,000 cash) to the winning image.

The campaign achieved exceptional results versus its objectives. Octopus saw a 163% increase in signups, gaining an additional 37,000 new customers compared to the same period the previous year, leading it to claim the 2020 Marketing Week Masters award for utilities.

The judges applauded the bravery of switching the entire Octopus budget from rational acquisition advertising to brand building. They said: “These initial results show it was an investment worth making.”