Kate Jeffers
Partner, Managing Director at Venables Bell & Partners, San Francisco
San Francisco, United States
Campaign Let's Green This City - Pacific Gas
Advertiser PG&E Corporation
Brand Pacific Gas & Electric Company
Date of First Broadcast/Publication
Business Sector Energy Production, Raw Materials & Minerals
Story The campaign redefined the traditional use of the word green by simply celebrating everyone doing his or her part. Each execution led to a comprehensive community-driven website, letsgreenthiscity.com, where every San Franciscan can go to fulfill all their green needs. letgreenthiscity.com celebrates green-minded individuals, provides a roadmap to green businesses and practices and offers a community where people can share anything and everything green. Think Yellow Pages turned green.
However, we knew advertising alone would not be enough. We were going to have to practice what we were preaching. So we executed several green-sponsored events including sod couches and “popup” cafes. Each of these events served as a vehicle for spreading the word about acting green.
Philosophy We embarked down the creative path and decided that the way to construct this campaign was less Madison Avenue, more “movement.” We asked ourselves, in creating this partnership with San Franciscans, what if we celebrated the work of everyone involved (individual San Franciscans, businesses in San Francisco, and PG&E) by completely redefining what green means? What if we celebrate both the big and the small by illustrating all the ways in which San Francisco is already green and then empowering San Francisco to ban together, with PG&E’s help of course, to become the greenest City? So it began our grassroots green movement.
Problem The objectives of the campaign were entirely perceptual. PG&E wanted San Franciscans to know that they have in place a number of programs and initiatives meant to directly address global warming in SF and beyond. As PG&E is the largest public utility in the whole of the country, they have the ability to effect true change not only in California but also in the United States and even the world. PG&E knew that the best place to begin partnering with and talking to an audience about their plans for an environmentally friendly future was in San Francisco.

This campaign was to be about helping San Franciscans understand that PG&E would ultimately be a part of the solution rather than a contributor to the problem. This type of campaign was unprecedented for the company, and especially unprecedented for a monopoly that doesn’t need to advertise for competitive purposes.

Hence, the objectives were as follows:

1. Increase awareness of PG&E’s commitment to the environment among San Franciscans.
2. Increase positive perception among San Franciscans.
Result The good news: it’s working. Not only did we meet our objectives of increasing awareness of PG&E’s commitment to the environment among San Franciscans and increasing positive perception of PG&E among San Franciscans, we also surpassed expectations in PG&E job approval and positive PR for the company.
Objective 1: Increase awareness of PG&E’s commitment to the environment among San Franciscans.
In less than a year, perceptions of PG&E’s specific environmental commitments all rose significantly vs. eight months prior. Key metrics such as providing electricity from renewable resources, reducing admissions that cause global warming, making SF more green and planning for the future all saw healthy increases.
In addition, in the same time period, San Franciscans became significantly more likely to believe that PG&E was helping to “Make San Francisco the greenest city in the Nation.”
What’s more, as of June 2007, the majority of SF voters (68%) now say that, “A power company can care about the environment.” As a direct result of this campaign, anecdotally, we have also been told that PG&E has been approached by “green” organizations throughout San Francisco interested in partnering with PG&E on green-related projects. These were doors that were historically sealed shut, and have now been opened as a direct result of PG&E’s commitment to the San Francisco environment and this grassroots campaign to accompany it. Some of those organizations include but are not limited to: Habitat For Humanity, City Car Share, The Environmental Defense Fund and even Burning Man.
Qualitative focus groups prior to the launch of the campaign, also demonstrated that San Franciscans were encouraged to learn about PG&E’s commitment to the environment.
Objective 2: Increase positive perceptions of PG&E among San Franciscans.
Based on a benchmark study eight months prior to the start of the Green Campaign, positive perceptions of PG&E rose significantly from 45% to 50%, and negative perceptions dropped 6%. PG&E is now proud to say that, since the initiation of the Green Campaign half of San Franciscans now claim to have a positive opinion of PG&E. This is a tremendous feat, in a short amount of time, among a highly skeptical audience.
In addition, according to the same June 2007 quantitative survey, an impressive seven of ten San Franciscans who are aware of the campaign now have a much more or somewhat more favorable opinion if PG&E.
Media Type Digital
Market Americas, United States
Senior Copywriter
Advertising Manager
Art Director
Account Director
Account Executive
Creative Director
Account Director

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