Pin to Collection
Add a note
Industry Energy & Water Utilities, Raw Materials & Minerals
Media Promo & PR, Case study
Market South Africa
Agency The Alchemist PR
Creative Director Thule Ngcese
Released August 2012

Credits & Description

Category: Public Affairs
Head of Strategy: Diane Naidoo-Ngcese (The Alchemist PR)
Creative Director: Thule Ngcese (The Alchemist PR)
Account Director: Conni Smit (The Alchemist PR)
Researcher: Nozipho Maziko (The Alchemist PR)
Web Developer: Steyn Hayward (Stained Design)
Cartoonist: Chip Snaddon (Freelance)
Board Member: Davin Chown (Mainstream Renewable Power)
Chairman: Adam Bruce (Renewable UK)
Chairman: Mark Tanton (SAWEA)
Media placement: Ambush Campaign Launch with Press Release - Sunday Times, Business Day, Engineering News, Cape Times, Cape Argus, Reuters, B - 13 May 2010
Media placement: Website launch - Website - June 2010
Media placement: Facebook Fan Page - Website - June 2010
Media placement: Twitter - Website - June 2010
Media placement: National Radio & TV chat shows - e-tv, SABC 3 News, SAfm, Radio 702, Radio Sonder Grense - May 2010
Media placement: Postcard & bottle delivery - National media and government offices - June 2010
Media placement: Viral Audition tape:'The Wind' - Viral online - July 2010
Media placement: Green Economy Debate - Johannesburg - July 2010
Media placement: Online advertising - WeatherSA, Radio 702, iAfrica - July 2010
Media placement: Flash mob activations - National government office traffic intersections - August 2010
Summary of the Campaign
South Africa’s energy market has been at a crossroads for the past 5-10 years and following a series of black-outs, power failures, load-shedding during 2008-2009, energy reserves were critically low ahead of the World Cup. Historically South Africa has been comfortably reliant on coal for 90% of its power generation, relatively unfamiliar, totally uncomfortable with new industries and new technologies. Early-2010 SA Minister of Energy was tasked with developing a new Integrated Resource Plan (IRP2010) which could adequately meet the country’s energy demand for the next 20 years. The agency was contracted by South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA) to implement a 3-month lobbying campaign targeting government departments, business leaders with the objective of educating, influencing policy decision-makers as a primary audience (the public, secondary) in a drive to secure 25% renewable energy in the new IRP2010 portfolio mix. 0-25% was a ‘big ask’.
The agency delivered an unorthodox lobbying campaign, with a mix of tactical and traditional PR, using thought-provoking ‘bite-size’ chunks of information, online messaging, flash mob and online call to action activations. The campaign stirred massive public debate across national media and online platforms, resulting in a 16% renewable energy allocation in SA's new IRP2010.
The Situation
The Minister of Energy had been a recent appointment in the Zuma-regime who only involved the coal and nuclear 'experts' to assist her in the development of a new Integrated Resource Plan for South Africa. Neither her nor her department were exposed or open to renewable energy.
Added to which, renewable energy was a new concept to most South Africans, including decision-makers, media and general public.
The South African Wind Energy Association recognised the opportunity to influence policy by 'connecting the dots' between renewable energy and the cost of living, potential environmental impact, job creation, skills development and economic growth.
The Goal
Our agreed objectives were to:
1. Debunk myths related to renewable (wind) energy
2. Educate leaders, decision-makers on the potential of a renewable energy industry
3. Influence policy i.e. IRP2010
4. Stir debate at a high-level and on the ground
Primary target audience: National Cabinet Ministers, Deputies, Director-Generals, Eskom, Energy Regulator, business leaders and the media to facilitate the flow of campaign messages.
Research comprised sourcing government public statements, statistics relating to unemployment, international best practice, COP-15 commitments, energy-related news reports in the three months preceding implementation. The agency also conducted a perception audit amongst media and government officials.
The Strategy
It was agreed that our campaign needed to be aggressive, not offensive, positioning SAWEA as a potential partner in sustainable energy delivery. It was also agreed that our campaign would be called 'Yes To Renewables' so that SAWEA would not be viewed as a vested 'wind energy' interest voice, and to sensitise, familiarise our audience in government, media and public domain, with 'renewable energy' as a concept.
Given time-constraints, compounded by World Cup 2010 taking place across two months of the IRP planning process, the campaign needed attention-grabbing messages and communications platforms.
Planning included research i.e. government and media perception audits, agreeing on key messages and the development of appropriate call-to-action tools, channels.
The agency crafted a lobbying campaign which included:
- Hand-delivered press releases in the form of postcards, water bottle labels, t-shirts
- Call to Action Website
- Online: Facebook, Twitter
- Public debates
- Flashmob activations
May 2010:
- Campaign Launch: SAWEA handed over '25%-by-2025' IRP submission to Department of Energy
June 2010:
- YesToRenewables website launch: Research papers, 'Get Involved' tips, online petitions, ads
- Postcards depicting wind-energy myths on front, 'fast facts' on reverse; hand-delivered weekly to Top 100 government, media with symbolic items eg. postcard about load shedding delivered with candles, postcard about power of wind delivered with wire-windmills
- Twitter feeds in the person of 'The Wind' keeping public informed of IRP2010/energy media reports
- Facebook Fan page
- Viral: 'Audition tape' from The Wind asking government for bigger part than 'extra' in IRP2010
- National radio/television chat shows
Mid-July to end-August 2010
- Online advertorials: WeatherSA, radio-news websites
- Empty water bottles: Fast facts about wind energy water savings on label delivered to national newsrooms, MPs around SA
- National radio/television chat shows
- Green Economy public debate
-Flash mob activations
Documented Results
The website attracted over 4,000 hits in the first month, with an average of 20 daily signed petitions - big success for a country with only 9% internet penetration. The campaign recorded over 500 articles and close to 100 broadcast debates around the issue of renewable energy.
South African Government's Parliamentary Portfolio Committee for Energy invited SAWEA to present evidence in support of renewable energy to assist in their IRP2010 decision-making.
When the new Integrated Resource Plan 2010 in Parliament mid-October, the Minister set a binding target of 16% renewable energy by 2020! The Minister also invited the public, including SAWEA to participate in IRP2010 public hearings, to pose questions, comment on the plan. The campaign's biggest win was the Ministerial tender at the end of 2010 for the country's first-ever 1025MW of renewable energy.