With green issues high on the list of priorities for brands everywhere, Norlys - Denmark’s specialists in power and gas trading - went one step further this New Year’s Day. Norlys is, in its own words, ‘geared towards accelerating the renewable energy transition’ and looking for ways to engage the people of Denmark on matters of sustainability and energy reduction. Last year It enlisted the help of Accenture Song for an ambitious campaign, called ‘Unplug Denmark’, that would ask everyone in the country to switch off and help the company make a donation to the Danish Red Cross - all without spending a single Krone.
Norlys was acutely aware of the particular conditions facing Danes when they first engaged Accenture Song; the energy crisis, the cost of living crisis, and the overarching looming environmental decline. Accenture Song was given an open brief and it inspired a different kind of fundraising, in line with the Norlys’ brand DNA and its co-operative status.
To ‘connect the community’ was one of the main aims of the campaign and Accenture Song took a three-pronged approach. The first raised awareness and built hype, the second used tailored messaging to target New Year’s Day media behaviours and the third communicated the charitable donation underpinning the campaign. People were also treated to unplugged performances by Danish pop stars on primetime TV during the event to further bolster engagement.
The results of the campaign speak for themselves:
● The level of engagement and participation resulted in a total energy consumption saving of 17% on the day
● The total donation amount was €6 million - the largest single donation ever made to a charity in Denmark
● The campaign gained 75 million impressions, reaching almost the entire Danish population – 97% across online and offline media
● More than 19% of Denmark's 18+ population saw at least one of the unplugged performances on primetime TV, generating instant campaign website traffic. It was one hundred times more effective than industry benchmarks
Today, LBB speaks to Norlys’ Per Hjuler, CMO, and Dennis Gade Pedersen, brand director, and to Accenture Song’s Frederik Halby, senior creative, and Madeleine Næsborg Veyssiere, group client director, about bringing the campaign together in just 1.5 (!) months and reaching the majority of Denmark with their messaging.
LBB> How did the idea for ‘Unplugged’ first come about? Tell us about the thinking behind it.
Frederik & Madeleine> We were given an open brief by Norlys, which emphasised the energy crisis, and how Norlys could act responsibly and in line with their brand DNA as a co-operative. We wanted to create a big idea that could engage as many Danes as possible, while also helping those most affected by the energy crisis. We also knew that it was important to raise awareness about better energy habits to lower prices and ensure continuing energy availability for all. And then there was the fact that it was hard to ask people for money, so we needed to empower them to help in another way. All this is how the idea of a different kind of fundraising unfolded. We collaborated closely with Norlys on all the details, and how we could make it possible.
LBB> Tell us about Norlys’ views on sustainability and why it matters to the company?
Per & Dennis> As a brand and operator within the energy sector, we care a great deal about sustainability. We operate across the entire energy value chain, and we are significantly invested in the production of renewable green energy. In addition to this, we offer our customers (households and enterprises) green energy and e-mobility. And we also have a high level of social engagement and are contributing via donations to a broad spread of philanthropic commitments. The ‘Unplug Denmark’ campaign is an alternative way into this field, where we engage Denmark’s citizens to determine the size of our donation.
LBB> Why did you choose to partner with Accenture Song on this campaign?
Per & Dennis> Accenture Song is our lead agency, and thereby our key sparring partner on brand strategy and executions. So, it felt natural to turn to them to partner with us on this activity.
LBB> Why did you choose to launch the campaign on New Year’s Day?
Frederik & Madeleine> We wanted to do the initiative on a day that people could remember. New Year’s Day seemed like a good match since it’s a day on which many Danes are at home – so people could actively get engaged and cut their electricity consumption. In Denmark, people relax and stay at home on their sofas watching TV on that day. They go for a walk, order takeaway, etc. Because we knew their media habits and what they were doing, we could reach them more effectively.
The first day of the year also marks a new year and the making of resolutions, both of which were also a great match for one of the other campaign messages we wanted to convey: making people even more aware of the importance of building better energy habits and saving energy.
LBB> To ‘connect the community’ is not an easy feat. Tell us your strategy for reaching as many households in Denmark as possible, and for encouraging them to participate in the campaign.
Frederik & Madeleine> We created a three-pronged strategy to reach and engage as many Danes as possible. In the first phase, we raised awareness and built hype around the initiative, by carefully looking at the public’s media behaviour between Christmas and New Year. We identified the most effective cross-media channels, including TV, cinema, radio, out-of-home, SoMe, programmatic online banners and influencers. During the second phase – on January 1st, our big day – we created tailormade messages that tapped into New Year’s Day behaviour, and we intensified the PR to create a sense of urgency and make as many Danes as possible cut their electricity consumption. In the third phase, we went out and communicated about the donation, while thanking the Danes for their participation.
LBB> What did you want the campaign to achieve – what was your idea of ‘success’?
Per & Dennis> Our success criteria were threefold. First, to engage Danish citizens in collecting money for the Danish Red Cross. Second, to direct attention to our energy consumption and ignite permanent changes in behaviour. And third, to donate a large sum for the Danish Red Cross to share among the Danish families most in need during the energy crisis.
LBB> Did any of the campaign’s findings surprise you?
Per & Dennis> No, our preparation was very thorough, so we were not surprised in any sense. Of course, we were exuberant about the level of engagement and participation, which resulted in a total energy consumption saving on the day of 17%.
LBB> You asked the community to ‘unplug’, you didn’t ask them for any donations, and you offered a free experience (musical performance featuring Jada and MØ) in return – how crucial was the experience part? What was your thinking behind it?
Frederik & Madeleine> The unplugged musical performances that aired in the commercial breaks on primetime TV were orchestrated as a sort of peaking moment of the campaign. We wanted to create a moving and purposeful moment with these unique unplugged performances, to make the Danes engage with the campaign message in a different way. We knew that most of the population would be watching TV in the evening, so we gave them something they didn’t expect. And the results showed us that it caught their attention.
LBB> The cost-of-living crisis is ongoing, and Denmark is no exception. ‘Unplugged’ was sensitive to the issue by not actually asking for monetary donations – can you explain why you took the decision to donate to the Danish Red Cross?
Per & Dennis> The Danish Red Cross is well established, with a brand image of trustworthiness and reliability. We valued that, since the reputations of the charities we partner with also reflect on the Norlys brand. We also needed a partner with an infrastructure that could deploy our donation to Danish families in need. We found that the Danish Red Cross could offer such a set-up.
LBB> What did you want to achieve with Unplugged – what metrics did you use to measure success? Please share some of the campaign’s key successes.
Frederik & Madeleine> The main KPI was to generate a big donation to the Danish Red Cross, so of course we were eager and excited to witness the Danish population’s engagement with the campaign message. And even more, to see their electricity consumption decrease on the day by 17%, compared to the same day in the two years before. The result was a donation of over 6 million euro – the largest single donation ever made to a charity in Denmark. To get as many Danes involved as possible, reach was an important factor. During the campaign period, we gained more than 75 million impressions and reached almost the entire Danish population – 97% across online and offline media. Also, more than 19% of Denmark's 18+ population saw at least one of our unplugged performances on primetime TV, which generated instant campaign website traffic – one hundred times more effective than industry benchmarks. We also saw brand consideration increase, and purchase intent double after campaign exposure.
LBB> While the campaign succeeded in reducing energy use on the day, how does it fit into the larger Danish conversation on green energy? What role do you see Norlys playing in the green transition long term – with this campaign and beyond?
Per & Dennis> The campaign has built up brand awareness of Norlys and manifested the brand as one that’s taking responsibility and taking care of the community – and not just our own bottom line. This reflects our reason for being and represents exactly the perception we were going for.
LBB> What challenges, if any, did you have to overcome and what were the highlight moments for you?
Frederik & Madeleine> Once the idea was approved by the Norlys board, we had just 1.5 months to execute the campaign. This was challenging in terms of video production, plus the creation of more than a hundred campaign elements. But with a massive team effort and strong partnerships, we made the deadline without compromising the creative execution.
Once we were live, we were impressed by the press coverage and talk value the campaign created as it unfolded. It was a strong and bold message from Norlys, and it truly felt like it generated conversations in Danish households. But most importantly, although a marketing stunt, the campaign idea brilliantly showcased that it’s possible to nudge sustainable behaviour while also tangibly helping those most in need. All of which contributes to a more equal society. Right now, the donation has helped more than 16,000 families in need, and it will have a positive impact on many more Danes in the future.