Wells champions the benefits of renewable energy (from the sofa) for Meridian

Meridian Energy has released a new campaign via Barnes, Catmur and Friends with its poster boy Jeremy Wells (clothed this time) about its use of renewable energy and how we can ‘Save the world right from our sofas’. Wells also stars alongside Freddy the goat, who makes a brief albeit important appearance.

In the TVC, which has just launched Wells yells at a small plant to “grow up”, saying it’s his way of helping the planet before discussing Meridian’s environmental benefits and urging Kiwis to switch.

In one great scene he wears a cabbage suit in a cave as Freddy the goat chews at him to relay to customers you don’t have to “ … live in a cave and wear cabbage to do your bit”. That’s good to know.

“We are really aware that New Zealanders don’t want to be preached to about the environment and we don’t want to be seen as a preachy environmental company,” says Meridian Energy brand manager Lizzy Baker.

“But we wanted to do it in a more tongue and cheek and hopefully engaging way. So that’s where the koalas and Freddy the goat come in. The suit he [Wells] was wearing was real cabbage too.”

“For us we wanted to talk to New Zealanders about how we are the product of being 100 percent renewable. And if you care about the environment and want to choose a company committed to renewable energy, choose us,” she says.

She says Meridian wanted to figure out a way not to depress people. “We wanted to say ‘Hey there’s lots of really cool things you can do’. Rather than saying ‘Take shorter showers’, our version is ‘Sing shorter songs in the shower’. So we’re just trying to do it in a different way to hopefully get that discussion happening. And how as a country we’re at 80 percent renewables now, which is amazing considering our Aussie neighbours are struggling at less than 14 percent.”

Part of [Meridian’s strategy] is based around the fact that New Zealanders don’t spend a lot of time thinking about electricity, she says. “ … and on the whole we are a low interest category, we aren’t selling beer and pizza. We are less visible. So we are figuring out a way to engage and entertain people and that’s what we strive to do.”

She says the campaign will be pushed out through all the main channels.

She says at the moment there’s also greater competition in the marketplace. “ … there are new competitors coming into the market and there’s a lot of activity in the sector.”

Meridian Energy communications Specialist Amy Lockyer says Meridian’s current market share is 14 percent, which is measured by the number of electricity connection points across all sectors – residential, business and agribusiness.

She says Meridian also has a high reputation and brand preference.

Barnes, Catmur and Friends partner Paul Catmur says the campaign has gone down very well. “It was great working with them [Meridian], Jeremy Wells too.”

He says the response so far has also been good. “People [when shown]laughed in the right places. And it was about not being too pan faced about the challenges of what renewable energy can be used to fight.”

He says there will be more TVCs to come but couldn’t confirm any further information about them at this stage.

As part of the campaign Meridian is offering &150 free power and a 15 percent prompt payment discount for people who join.

Meridian’s last campaign comprised of a rather confronting image of Wells nude, unapologetically staring straight ahead with an iron covering his nether region.

Running with the line ‘Jeremy Irons thanks to Meridian’ and featuring a strategically placed appliance a la Austin Powers, the promotion was based on a big dirty pun (fittingly, British actor Jeremy Irons’ back catalogue also features a fair amount of birthday suiting). This followed on from Barnes Catmur’s first campaign to promote Meridian’s moving house offer of a welcome pack worth $50 (no iron included) and $150 off their bill, which saw Wells become a literal embodiment of the brand and get rolled in plastic (thankfully, it was slightly less violating than the plastic wrapping from the famous Target parody on Eating Media Lunch). 

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