As electric vehicles enter the mainstream, Volkswagen subsidiary Electrify America is pouring more than $10 million into a campaign that seeks to bring in new EV buyers. “As Seen on EV,” released today, hypes up electrification by playing on TV show tropes ranging from Western to reality, where a contestant lists the qualities of a car as if it was a true love.
See Electrify America's $10 million EV education campaign
Electrify America is targeting a broad swath of people who are likely to “consider driving electric,” said its Director of Brand Strategy and Integrated Marketing Misti Murphey. “We’re not targeting existing EV owners,” she said, and the campaign should resemble a “public service announcement” to raise awareness about EVs.
Electrify America was created by VW in 2017 as part of a government mandate for the company to spend $2 billion raising awareness about electric vehicles after the automaker was revealed to have lied about the emission rates of its diesel vehicles.
The company is building a charging network in the U.S., with a Canadian counterpart called Electrify Canada.
In June, Electrify America raised $450 million via an investment from German conglomerate Siemens with the goal of increasing Electrify America’s charging stations from 800 to 1,800 stations in the U.S. and Canada by 2026.
The new campaign, which will run in the U.S. until July 2024, aims to complement “the work that automakers are also doing a little further down in the sales funnel” with the hopes that if there is the need to target a specific demographic, automakers will “come in and fill in those gaps,” said Murphey.
EV development and charging woes
Most every major automaker is pouring billions of dollars into EV development. Brands including Chevrolet, Ford and BMW have increasingly put more marketing dollars behind EVs, including pricey Super Bowl ads.
Murphey framed Electrify America’s campaign, created by the brand’s agency of record Praytell, as “brand neutral,” including keeping a distance from its owner VW’s brands. The ads will be shown on connected TV platforms such as Hulu, TrueX, Viral Games, Lifetime, Telemundo, E! and Amazon. The buy also includes Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Reddit. It chose not to advertise on Twitter for this campaign, although this came before Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s acquisition of the platform and is not related to that purchase, said Murphey.
The campaign comes as EV sales are rising, more than doubling in the U.S. in 2021, according to a report in May from the International Energy Agency. A little over half of vehicles sold in the U.S. will be some form of electric vehicle by 2030, according to a projection from BloombergNEF, the consulting and analysis affiliate of Bloomberg News.
Electrify America's network has been criticized along with other EV charging companies for having chargers that don’t work—it was labeled as having the third highest rate of out-of-order chargers in California’s Bay Area (at 19%) in a study released this year by U.C. Berkeley. The company’s chargers also have a low average use rate compared to Tesla, according to numbers provided by Forbes in October.
In response, a company spokesperson said that chargers use frequency depends on location but that “we take (reliability) seriously."