Smart thermostat company goes to extremes to warm skeptics to the idea of climate change in social experiment by DCX
For Earth Day, ecobee, the company responsible for inventing the smart thermostat, today unveiled #HeatedDiscussions, a social experiment to see if humour might prove a useful tool to engage climate change skeptics in serious conversations about climate change. And they say it worked.
ecobee and agency DCX Growth Accelerator invited 20 climate change skeptics to a focus group. As the skeptics discussed their views, the facilitators began to turn up the heat, literally. The temperature in the room rose through the 90s, and hidden cameras caught participants in various states of discomfort - sweating profusely, fanning themselves, and even struggling to remain coherent as the room reached over 100 degrees. In addition to heat, the groups experienced other extreme simulations synonymous with real-life weather conditions, including smog and hurricane-force winds. Footage reveals participants discussing climate change while wearing gas masks.
Ultimately participants laughed out loud, and the tenor of the conversation shifted. Participants who had earlier in the discussion dismissed climate change as “preaching” by elite celebrities and politicians began to more earnestly discuss its potential dangers. Some citing that they recycle regularly and leverage public transportation as ways of practicing eco-friendly actions in their everyday lives.
The hypothesis behind the social experiment was that humour might be a useful tool to engage skeptics in the climate change discussion, where more emotional and didactic pleas of green advocates have failed. “The discussion around climate change is one of the most important issues we face, and yet we’re at a point where millions dismiss it outright as a political issue,” said Jackie Poriadjian-Asch, chief marketing officer and chief revenue officer at ecobee. “This is not a political issue, it’s a planet issue. Our approach may have been excessive, but we were willing to go to extremes to spark a much-needed discussion. Confronting the realities of climate change can feel overwhelming, but we firmly believe that each of us has the power to make a significant impact.”
“In our research, we found that many climate skeptics were rejecting sustainability messaging as either preachy or highly political.” explains Doug Cameron, chief creative officer of DCX. “So, we wondered if a fresh approach might be needed.”
“ecobee was founded 12 years ago with the goal of helping people reduce their energy consumption,” said ecobee president and CEO Stuart Lombard. “Today, we continue to help people make a difference by offering them a simple way to conserve energy and save money. But it is not enough to just talk to those who share our perspective. On Earth Day, we are hoping to foster an open dialogue and ultimately, continuing to raise awareness on a global scale.”
#HeatedDiscussions underscores ecobee’s unwavering commitment to the planet on Earth Day – and every day. Whether it’s donating time, data, or technology, ecobee is committed to protecting the planet and helping communities. Since inventing the smart thermostat ecobee has helped its customers save 6.7 TWh of energy and prevented half-a-million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. Together ecobee and its customers are fighting climate change and building stronger greener communities.
The campaign launches with a 1:45 spot, as well as a 3:30 long-form and various cut-downs. Video will air nationally across YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Visit www.ecobee.com/heated to get involved and join the conversation. Heated discussions can be uncomfortable. But they can also create room for change.