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Published April 26th 2017

Industry Opinion: Hype Means Nothing Without Context

M&C Saatchi PR's Chris Owen's noticed an annoying trend for hyping up products without offering important context. In his column he explains why it's a problem

There’s an advert on telly at the moment from a major UK utility company – I won’t name the company, you’ll know it or have seen it – which is trying to encourage customers to adopt smart metering in their homes. The advert is offering the company’s own wireless thermostat  for ‘just’ £9 a month.

However, the advert doesn’t explain the benefits – apart from being able to control your heating from your phone – of adopting the smart meter.

Importantly, it doesn’t explain cost savings, so all the consumer sees is a device they haven’t used before suddenly increasing their gas and electricity bills by £9 a month.

Missing the point

My monthly utilities bill is about £60, and I’d say we have a fairly average semi-detached home with pretty average heating needs.

Sticking £9 on top of this is adding a cost I don’t see I’ll get back by driving down my usage. Even if it could, it’s missing from the ad.

The advert fundamentally misses a key element of driving new device adoption: context.

There is no quick, simple explanation of how this will drive down carbon footprints, reduce heating costs, collectively tackle climate change and encourage a more environmentally friendly mindset for everyone in the household.

There’s no long term – let alone short term – context to why smart metering is a clever, tech driven game changer for utilities and for the consumer.

It’s a huge potential market, but as with anything which tinkers with your home and intrinsic aspects of life within it, it needs to be ‘sold in’ properly.

This isn’t a new table for the front room; it’s not a nice bedside lamp – it’s a means through which the consumer can get a better handle on their utilities usage and make a bigger impact through wider adoption.

It’s frustrating that there seems more focus on a cutesey penguin than on actually explaining the point of the product they’re trying to sell.

Chris is a regular contributor to the Brandwatch Blog. Find out more about M&C Saatchi PR by clicking here.

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