Brilliant Ads Tweak “Solar is for Hippies” Meme

May 9, 2012


SunRun is a solar company with an interesting model: Instead of just selling you solar panels, they pay to put them on your house, and then you pay them for the energy those panels provide. In other words, for no upfront costs you can start having access to a source of clean energy. What you may not know is that in many places, solar is now the cheapest form of power you can buy, and that list is growing rapidly. To ram this point home, SunRun has just created a brilliant advertising campaign that makes it clear that solar power is a smart financial decision, and not one just for silly hippies.

All the ads in the new campaign (created by the San Francisco agency Heat) feature a voiceover exclaiming how good for the environment solar power is, only to be corrected by the new SunRun customers: It’s about the cash. The one above features your typical urban hipster “pickling guy.” Despite wanting some “soy flax seeds,” he doesn’t care that solar is good for the environment, he just wants cheap solar. And this nice couple in the video below really doesn’t care about dolphin babies as much as they care about money.

We’ve often talked about what happens when solar becomes cheaper than coal nationally, and this campaign is hopefully just the start of a long re-education of the masses about the cost of power. Now that solar often is cheaper than coal, it needs to shed the image of being the power source equivalent of shopping at Whole Foods–that you’re paying more to do good things for the planet–and start being just the thing that smart, frugal people have. This last spot, featuring a nice down-to-earth guy who works in his garage and doesn’t care about the environment, is a good start:

Business model described below.

21 Responses to “Brilliant Ads Tweak “Solar is for Hippies” Meme”

  1. omnologos Says:

    Memories of the eCommerce fiasco. Novelty marketing usually is just a prelude to financial disaster. When the internet came around there was no need to re-educating the masses, and the same for planes, trains, TVs, movie theaters, cars, and sliced bread.

    Solar will be mature and feasible only when it’ll be boring, as uninteresting as a combination boiler.

    • greenman3610 Says:

      what is this new-fangled ad-ver-tahs-in’ ana-way?

    • bobinchiclana Says:

      Memo to Marketing Dept. Cancel all adverts as some Greek guy called omnologos, says it “is just a prelude to financial disaster”!

      Look out Coke and Guinness you’re on the way out with all those new fangled advert ideas!

      • omnologos Says:

        Funny how you both missed the main part of the story, that is of course not the ads, but the bit where it says: Instead of just selling you solar panels, they pay to put them on your house, and then you pay them for the energy those panels provide.

        That’s what reminds me of the eCommerce debacle. Sounds like a “cunning plan” indeed!

  2. Dennis Cox Says:

    Solar’s been doing a pretty good job for us. I’ve grown a bit fond of living off the grid, and thumbing my nose at the power company. It’s nice to be able to tell them they cam put their smart meter someplace the sun doesn’t shine.

  3. dana1981 Says:

    I’ve got a similar system, leasing solar panels from Sungevity. Even though my household energy consumption is low, I’ll roughly break even in electric costs over the 10-year lease (which I paid for up-front to reduce the overall cost). The larger your energy consumption, the more likely you are to save money with these solar leases, but there are ways to make it economical even if your consumption is low, as I found out.

  4. Dennis Cox Says:

    We got our panels at a good price, and then built, and self installed ours . Here’s a picture of one of three arrays I built.

    The support frame is all recycled steel. Also, my nephew works for a small airline as an aircraft mechanic. And when they converted the aircraft batteries for their entire fleet from NiCad to Lead-Acid we got 50 perfectly servicable 24 volt NiCad batteries for the trouble of hauling them off.

    The total out of pocket expense so far for all three arrays, batteries, and charge controller/inverters is less than $25,000 for a system that would’ve cost well over $120,000 if if I’d have hired a contractor to build, and install it.

    And I love it!

    • MorinMoss Says:

      How long can you run “normally” off the batteries?

      • Dennis Cox Says:

        I haven’t tested it to see how long the batteries can carry the house without the sun to charge them. But I suspect we could go for a couple of days on a full charge.

        The solar panels are able to provide enough power during the day to provide power to the house, as well asto re-charge the batteries. At night the batteries keep everything going ’til the sun comes up again.

        We remain connected to the grid in case of problems. But so far the system has even been able to function on cloudy days.

  5. bobinchiclana Says:

    One aspect that is often overlooked is the potential added value of a property that is solar powered. Certainly in Europe and in our particular part of Spain, “Eco-casas” have an added value, which in many cases is equal to the cost of installation.

    Anyway back to the beetroot pickling…….

  6. Jeremy Nathan Marks Says:

    That’s great and it made me laugh. This seems like a perfect response to the kind of idiocy we see from groups like The Heartland “Institute.” I have to put “institute” in quotes because they strike me as being more like a front business for the neanderthal mafia.

    Still, I must say I love dolphin babies too.

  7. mrsircharles Says:

    A pity that the only green that counts for too many in the US is the dollar note.

    “Only when the last tree has died, the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught will we realize that we cannot eat money.”

  8. MorinMoss Says:

    If Heartland had hired this advert company, they wouldn’t be so busy trying to scrape the fried egg off their faces.

  9. adelady Says:

    These are in much the same vein as the Oz energy efficiency ads – solar isn’t mentioned, it’s just on the roof of the house.

  10. […] post on SunRun’s new ad campaign was somewhat serendipitous. The New York Times has a story today on their business model, which is […]

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