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“If you can’t plug your car in …”

March 19th, 2012 · 2 Comments

This public service video — from an actual Chevy owner (as you’ll see by the production quality) and Plug-In America — speaks to many of the values and value streams that actual people look to when it comes to the return-on-investment from buying an electric vehicle (PHEV or EV).  Quiet enough to listen to birds while driving … control over your own fuel future … paying for American workers to install solar panels (or, okay, build nuclear reactors or put up wind turbines or …) rather than paying for the world’s newest tallest building overseas … or



Why did Jeff U’Ren make this spot?  Simply put, because he was underwhelmed by Chevy’s Volt advertisements and, well, “They never mentioned the damn plug.”

Plug In America isn’t thrilled with Madison Avenue’s approaches to promoting electric cars.

When Plug In America saw Jeff’s video, we all thought it was a winner.

As, obviously, do I …

I asked a few colleagues about what needs to change in plug-in car messaging. Colby Trudeau liked the “day in the life” aspect of Jeff’s video, saying “plug-in advertising needs to show how EVs work for real people in the real world. Plugging your car in shouldn’t be depicted as a fantasy, but something that is a reality for many people today.”


Jeff’s plug in routine does look truly painful.

Anyone with a garage (not filled with junk) could adopt that routine — plugging in in seconds with knowledge that they’ll taking themselves away from burning fossil fuels toward a less polluting transportation option.

Alexandra Paul says “What is great about Jeff’s video is that he shows how day-to-day a plug-in car is entirely practical – wonderful, actually! One thing missing from current Leaf and Volt advertising is that down to earth daily snapshot of how your average driver lives with an EV.”

Jeff says these are the important points to touch on when talking about plug-ins.

  1. Plug-ins are fun. Show people having fun in the car. Show it driving!
  2. We don’t call them plug-ins for nothing. Show the plug. Show it working! Say why it’s so great that it has a plug.

We need more plug-in car commercials that show people having a blast. Driving by gas stations and laughing.

Yup, switch to a Prius and you’ll breathe in fumes from the pump half as often.  Switch to a PHEV, like the Volt, and you cut in half again. Swith to a true electric car and, well, never again.

It’s been almost 6 years since “Who Killed the Electric Car?” where David Freeman, an energy adviser in the Carter administration, complained “We never saw a TV ad with an electric car scampering up a hill with a good-looking man or woman draped across it. That’s how they sell cars.”

While I’ve seen EV enthusiasts doing videos where the EV-driver ‘gets the girl’ while the Hummer driver is left at the pump (with the $s clicking ever higher as the gallons flow into it), that hasn’t been the image electric vehicle manufacturers have promoted. We’ve seen the earth sprouting flowers as a Prius passes by with hippy-like happiness and a polar bear hugging a Leaf driver, and learned about the power of zero

We haven’t seen a hybrid leaping ahead of other cars with mentioning how, when necessary, that electric drive assist is serious power on demand for acceleration.  We haven’t had any ads showing people able to listen to birds at the stop sign since the gas engine (for the HEV and PHEV) isn’t required. We haven’t had …

How much longer do we have to wait, Madison Avenue?



Hat tip to AutoBlog Green.

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Tags: advertising · automobiles · PHEV

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