Energy Online and Contagion repel door-to-door salespeople with an angry doorknocker

We’ve all had it. You’re having a nice relaxing evening at home after a busy day, and then you hear it. The dreaded knock. You think, ‘But I’m not expecting anyone’. Then you open the door to see someone standing there, smiling nervously, clipboard in hand before they start either awkwardly or over-enthusiastically bumbling through their speech on how you should switch internet provider, switch power company or switch religion. As you stare at them trying to look earnest, nodding and lapping up a healthy dose of second-hand apprehension and embarrassment you think to yourself, why must doorknockers exist? Power company Energy Online, which has vowed not to have doorknockers, has released an ad showing the most ideal doorknocking scenario.

In the ad for a new campaign, door-to-door salespeople from other energy companies are frightened away by a gargoyle doorknocker.

The clip, the first of a series to be released in the coming weeks, has gone viral. This morning it was sitting at half a million views and has sky rocketed in the space of just a few hours to over a million despite the clip only being released two days ago, Contagion managing director Dean Taylor says. He says it’s been picked up in the UK, Canada and on Reddit and Unilad. “I think it’s interesting from a sociological point of view, what’s going to go viral. It’s very difficult to predict … There’s an insight here that everybody has had an experience with a knocker and there’s something really strong here.”

The doorknockers were actors, he says. “Who were told that they were playing the role of a doorknocker and had no idea who commercially it was for, so all the reactions were true reactions to the door. One of the girls in there [the clip]is in the agency, she’s an account director. We told her a client needs help with a shoot and ‘All you have to do is wear a clipboard’.”

He says the clip is part of a bigger campaign as part of its brand relaunch, including a website redesign, designed office interiors, pre-rolls, homepage takeovers and influencer seeding.

Contagion executive creative director Bridget Taylor says the ad is based on a clear strategy that it realised in its research. “People spend nine minutes a year interacting with their energy provider and our clients agreed it’s a pretty dull time and Energy Online want to want to prove their difference.”

“So we decided to do a purely online campaign which brings up the true benefits of the company in an authentic and engaging way.”

She says the company targets a younger demographic, who are probably more online savvy and the gargoyle doorknocker was played by comedian Tim Batt.

“So that [Batt] was someone we knew would engage with a tough audience. We had two directors from Augusto, James Anderson and Jesse Griffin (aka Wilson Dixon), who was fantastic so we very carefully thought it out. It had to be a careful line of comedy.”’

Genesis Energy and Energy Online group manager new & growth business Cameron Jardine says “It’s refreshing to work so collaboratively with an agency across all disciplines and build this brand together. We are future-focused company and needed a partner that thought the same way as we do.”

Contagion began working with Energy Online earlier this year. The first stage was developing a consumer-centric strategy which resulted in Contagion redesigning Energy Online’s new website which launched in July, a release says.

Genesis Energy retail general manager David Goadby says “We’ve had more sign ups for online services in 15 days than we had in 15 years. We couldn’t be happier with our new strategy.”

Now, it’s time to relaunch the brand to New Zealand Dean Taylor says: “Energy Online is responsible for challenging one of the largest utility segments in New Zealand, dominated by old school players. It’s exciting to be part of a journey that could see the market change forever. We’re thrilled to see all of our brand planning coming to life in this well rounded digital campaign.”

We can’t decide which doorknockers are grumpier, these ones or the cranky duo from the Labyrinth.


Client: Energy Online

Client: Cameron Jardine, Group Manager New & Growth Business

Agency: Contagion

Planner: Dean Taylor

Client Partners: George Sim, Tim Brown

Creatives: Bridget Taylor, Verity Dookia

Design: Phila Lagaluga

Producer: Lauren Wethey

Media: Richard Thompson, Suzie Thompson

Social: Tom Bates

Production Partner: Augusto

Director: James Anderson

2nd Director: Jesse Griffin

Producer: Joseph McAlpine

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