Making the case for electric driving: the best of electric vehicle advertising

by | Apr 30, 2016

Last month, the team from the UK Government’s electric vehicle marketing team: Go Ultra Low came up to the North East on a visit and while they were here they gave us a sneak preview of their latest ad campaign which launched in May 2016.

It got me thinking back to 2011 when we began our first ever public engagement and marketing campaign for electric vehicles up here in North East England. At that time it was a complete uphill struggle and we were battling against multiple misconceptions: the cars were too expensive; they didn’t go far enough; there was nowhere to charge them and the number of times people mentioned the milk float word to me… Over the four years of running electric vehicle marketing campaigns, our messaging really focussed on trying to educate people and charge perceptions for the better.

As the market for electric vehicles accelerates, car manufacturers have taken different approaches to advertising picking up on different motivations for purchasing. Automotive brands do have a reputation for smart and attention grabbing ad campaigns and the electric drive gives a lot more opportunity to be creative. There’s been some good ones so far and here are my current top five ads that make compelling cases for going electric.

  1. Electric Life: Renault ZE

This is an old one – it came out at the very start of the launch of the Renault ZE range – but it’s still a good one. In the words of one of my Renault contacts, this advert was all about aiming to change the way people thought about electric cars rather than simply focussing on product attributes or positioning the cars as ‘the future’. In my opinion, it does make you stop and think: ‘Actually, why aren’t we fuelling our drive with electricity – how old fashioned are we?’

  1. Polar Bear in the City: Nissan LEAF

This is another old one and I don’t think it ever got aired in the UK but it still gives me a warm feeling inside. Who doesn’t love a commercial with a polar bear as the main character? Having driven a Nissan LEAF for about 40,000 miles now, I can confirm that the warm feeling you get inside is pretty much the same as being embraced by a huge bear. It goes without saying that this is an advert that was really going for the environmentally conscious motorist.

  1. Some fear change. Others drive it.

BMW adverts

I really loved everything that BMW did around the launch of their i series and it was the first time that I’d seen an EV campaign which was so obviously all about image. This campaign put aside any talk of the obvious environmental benefits and firmly set out to entice the technologically advanced / early adopter market. The photography is just beautiful on this whole campaign and the messaging straight to the point.

  1. The Foolproof Guide to Electric Driving: Nissan

More recently, Nissan have launched a range of short videos with comedian Joe Wilkinson which I absolutely love. Short, quirky, very sharable and tackling all those FAQs that customers have but in an offbeat way. There’s actually five in the series but my favourite is still all about the money:

  1. Electrify Your Drive: Go Ultra Low

Go Ultra Low campaign

I have to end as I began – with the Go Ultra Low campaign. Again, the team made an active choice to focus on the image of a car – showing that an electric car is a pretty sexy choice. The TV advert accompanying the campaign is high impact, tons of style and low on messaging. But they’ve kept a consistent style running through their print ads which gets across the message of still one of the biggest perceived barriers to electric driving – range – by highlighting the number of rapid charge points in the UK. Something very close to our heart at Zero Carbon Futures.

Zero Carbon Futures is an electric vehicle consultancy which manages and delivers projects which help towns and cities increase EV uptake.




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