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UnThink Solar
a div of Impress Labs
811 Sansome St
San Francisco, CA 94111
United States

No. of Employees: 33
Phone: 415-395-0941

When Will a Solar Company Guerilla Market Like this Bank?

Here’s another example of a non-solar company taking a small guerilla marketing risk and getting a 9-million viewer pay-off on YouTube. I repeat: Nine million people watching a five minute video made by an international bank that few Americans have ever heard of…until now.



Industry pros often tell me that it’s the installers that choose solar PV panels, and I agree that’s the current reality for residential, commercial, and utility sales. But that doesn’t have to be the case in the residential and small commercial sector if more solar PV companies (and installers) did something like the above every once in a while.

Wouldn’t it be great for customers to know the name of a PV brand beyond Solyndra because they saw — and were inspired by — a creative solar guerilla marketing video they saw on You-tube or Facebook? One more time: Over 9 million views!

So, why is this video so successful and how can it apply to solar companies?

1. It’s visual. They chose a great spot in a public square, placed a camera in front of an odd looking, talented guy with a cello, added a cute kid putting a euro into the hat, and that was all the hook needed to keep us watching.

2. It’s mysterious. Quickly, the single cello player is joined by more musicians, who are equally talented. What’s happening?

3. There’s a payoff. The mystery unfolds, and we see the entire spectacle play out, literally to a crescendo.

4. It’s universal.  Perhaps you don’t know this is Beethoven, but you’ve probably heard that song once in your life. Even if you haven’t, there’s a reason why orchestras have been playing it for 200 years. It’s a great song. (“Ode to Joy.”)

5. It’s positive. Sure, sex and violence sells, but only in newspapers, television, and video games. For brands that sell solar panels or installation, you want to be associated with something positive, and giving a free, spontaneous, concert on a public square is certainly positive. Note the many genuine images of children enjoying the music as much as the adults.

6. It involved the community. The Bank didn’t just hire any concert orchestra from any city. They were celebrating their 130th anniversary in their hometown, so they looked to their own hometown orchestra and professional choir.

What was the point? The marketing point was brand awareness, but it’s more than that. It’s also cementing customer relationships, especialy in the bank's home office city.

What does a classical concert flash mob have to do with an international commercial bank? (Banco Sabadell). As noted on You-tube under the video, this was a part of their 130th anniversary celebration. Their slogan is “We are Sabadell,” and this flash mob reflects their boldness, their creativity, as well as their pride in being part of the city and its citizens.

Could a solar company do something like this? Yes, but it’s too late now. It’s been done and viewed by 9 million people around the world. However, there are many ways to do a flash mob, and if you’re a solar company, create something related to solar. And by that I mean:

  • Build something in public or for the public with solar panels.
  • Power that something. If you want to make a storage point, have a battery to power it at night too.
  • Make that something move. Solar energy may be quiet and still (on the surface), but guerilla marketing isn’t.
  • Make it have sound, whether that means sound effects or music. (But don’t just hire a band and power guitar amplifiers with solar panels. That would be obvious and boring.)
  • Involve the public. Allow kids and people to push a button, pull a lever, whatever. Of course, be sure it’s safe for onlookers to participate. If you have any doubt, keep it to your crew.
  • Make it visually educational about solar, of course, but feel free to make other points too.
  • Make the concept reflective of your brand. Even if you don’t want this to reflect your brand, it will. So, might as well shape it. It’s another reason why you should stay positive and family friendly.
  • Whatever happens, whatever you do, videotape it with several cameras. That will allow for better editing choices later.
  • Be safe and be legal.

This isn’t rocket science, but it is solar science and there is some risk of falling flat. But wouldn’t that risk be worth it? 9 million views…UnThink Solar.

Tor Valenza a.k.a. “Solar Fred” advises solar companies on marketing, communications, and branding. Want more solar marketing info? Sign up for the Solar Fred Marketing Newsletter, or contact Solar Fred through UnThink Solar. You can also follow @SolarFred on Twitter.


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