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NEST, Palo Alto / NEST LABS / 2018

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The Power Project launched on Earth Day when people would be most receptive to an issue concerning energy and access. It came to market as an integrated campaign designed to educate people about of the issue and inspire them to act. This was done by appealing to the head - through a platform built on hyperlocal data that showed users the issue in their neighborhood. And by appealing to the heart - through emotional storytelling from the perspective of the real families affected. The Earth Day launch was accompanied by a full-page ad in the New York Times challenging viewers to reconsider what they think they know with a provocative headline: “Earth Day isn’t equally distributed.” The copy then went into the ways energy efficiency isn’t equally distributed, what Nest is doing about it and how readers can get involved.


The goal was to surface the data that had the capacity to surprise the user by presenting the true picture of the issue in their communities. And then use that data to compel them to act. As mentioned above - the numbers alone wouldn’t have meant much. So we used more than 20k data points to tell stories. For instance, instead of knowing that 1000 households were affected, we thought about the children in those households. We knew from existing research that kids in poorly heated homes struggle in school, or if their electricity is turned off, they can’t do their homework. So we turned that into a data supported story about the kids in their neighborhood falling behind in school - using as our baseline the minimum temperature schools in the US are mandated to maintain. Similarly, we knew that people struggling with this issue are frequently faced with difficult decisions - like choosing between buying groceries or paying the energy bill. So we used that insight to tell another data story. In this way, visitors were faced with a picture of what life is like as a victim of energy poverty in their neighborhood.


In the two weeks since launch, the campaign has delivered more than 2mm completed video views, 400+ press articles & syndications, and 150mm in media impressions. Currently, 750k will be donated towards organizations working towards democratizing energy efficiency. One million energy and money saving thermostats will be made available to homes in need. And every Habitat for Humanity home built in the US this year will include a money and energy saving thermostat. Beyond the early results, the Power Project has started a dialog about an underreported issue: energy bills that are excessively high and the uneven distribution of the energy efficiency.


While more than 20k data points were sourced from multiple public institutions, it was the application of that data that gave life to the campaign. For every zip code in America, the data was presented as a humanizing story - such as the number of children who fall behind in school due to poorly heated homes. Or the amount of families in each neighborhood that are paying over 20% of income on energy bills. The campaign brought to life the socio-economic problems that exist for those living at or just below the poverty line.


To be effective, we needed to convince people that this wasn’t some far-off issue, it was happening in their community. That translated to a strategy that focused on localizing the issue and humanizing the struggle.

So we looked to the numbers, relying on a mass of data sources from energy and poverty organizations across the country, including the US Department of Energy and U.S Department of Health. In total, over 21,432 data points fed a user experience that provided a true picture of the issue in every neighborhood in America. Instead of just surfacing the numbers, we presented the data through humanizing portraits of the effect of the burden.

To take it further, we created content featuring real families describing energy poverty in their own words. The families represented a cross-section of Americans - challenging users to think about the energy burden’s affect on their neighbors.


Saving energy is core to Nest’s mission of creating a home that takes care of the people inside it - and the world around it. Because of this, Nest decided to take on energy poverty - the uneven distribution of energy efficiency; with a platform, storytelling campaign, and a five-year commitment to making real and meaningful change.

The Nest Power Project was launched to both raise awareness of the issue and to provide relief - through donations and aid. But the issue is too big to tackle alone. So Nest created partnerships with Fannie Mae, Habitat for Humanity, and energy providers nationwide to reach the families most affected. Additionally, an integrated campaign was launched to bring people in - making them aware of the issue and inspiring them to act.

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