Ovation from Iceland

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AUCKLAND, Today: Independent NZ power company Electric Kiwi – with help from Lassoo Media & PR – turned the ad world upside down last week with a win in the (wait for it) … Icelandic Charge Energy Awards.

So how did a small power company from Godzone manage to get noticed on the other side of the world?

Here’s Electric Kiwi chief marketing officer Andrew Cooper: “With an honest approach, a keen Kiwi attitude and willingness to cut a new track.

“If there was one thing we were looking forward to this year, it was flying 25 hours to Iceland, dressing up as Vikings, and warming ourselves in the Baltic climes with vodka. 

“This year Electric Kiwi was awarded the Best Challenger Brand in Iceland – an honour we were hoping to have bestowed upon us during some sort of over-the-top fire ceremony.

“Instead, we accepted it from back home – scoffing a packet of jet planes with the aircon set to an Icelandic three degrees. In a Covid year, we are pretty familiar with improvising, and if you closed your eyes and chanted a little, it produced a pretty convincing effect.

“The judges were an international panel of experts within energy, marketing, and comms.”

“The judges are made up of an international panel of experts within energy, marketing, and communications.

“The aim is to increase awareness and highlight the importance of branding in the rapidly changing energy sector. If you said that 10 years ago people would have laughed. Branding in the energy sector? You have to be kidding.

“But branding is big business, and we appreciate that. We have paddled our own waka a bit at Electric Kiwi. Rather than agency boffins and 80-page strategy decks, we focus on being ourselves, being good Kiwi citizens, and we figure this will be pretty hard for the big guys to replicate.

“If I had a dollar for every expert who, horrified by our ads, has emailed me to ask if we ‘need some help’, I could probably buy myself a pretty nice steak and cheese pie by now. But the truth is that Kiwis are pretty connected to our lo-fi authenticity. So much so that we are now the most preferred energy brand in New Zealand, and we command the largest share of customers changing power companies.

“Culture is equally important to us, and our external branding holds true to what goes on behind the scenes. Although, most of us aren’t caricatures in real life and many of us certainly can’t carry a tune. I’m sure that was evident to all Kiwis while listening to the Electric Kiwi song on TV featuring staff members and their kids.

“We took Meridian to the ASA for what we think was blatant greenwashing – and we won.”

“My advice is to figure out what authentic is for your business, and then stick to it no matter what the experts say.”

“It’s no small feat for an independent power company from New Zealand to challenge the established incumbent players.

“Like us, these awards are a bit of a novelty, the first and only of their kind to recognise great branding within the energy space.

“We are not a big corporate, and we’re proud of that. This award reflects the value we put into staying true to our honest and authentic reputation. Maybe it reflects our willingness to call out industry crap when we see it too. We are not here just to grow, but to keep the big guys honest and to improve experiences for our customers along the way.

“Recently we took Meridian to the ASA for what we think was blatant greenwashing, and we won. Have to admit we felt like tattle-tales and that I quite liked that ads we managed to get removed, but if we won’t stand up to bad behaviour then who will? I am not saying that we are like Batman. I am not saying that! But we do see this as our responsibility these days to some extent.

“So my advice to other up and coming brands? I would figure out a way to be true to what you are. Brands are the things you do, not just your ads so make that apply across the board.”

“Our vision is to be the most-loved energy company in New Zealand, and to get there, we focus on doing business the Kiwi way. To us, that means being humble, laid back and lo-fi. It means doing things ourselves. It also means no tricks and keeping our word. I am not saying that our approach would work for others, in fact, it probably won’t.

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