When bad seems good

The environmental issue is everywhere. It is interpreted very differently from person to person and from generation to generation. Yesterday I noticed an advertisement for a Swedish electrical company called Telge Energi. The company is focused on buying and selling electricity from only environmental friendly sources. On their webpage you can read about close co-operations and fundraising for organizations like WWF.

Recently, they published a campaign stating that the current generation buying electricity has to make a choice and that they can’t “Leave the climate crisis for the children”. This is a great statement, of course! We need electricity, why not buy it from a clean source. However, that is only a part of the campaign, the rest of it are children writing notes like letters to their parents. As enclosed images for the swedish readers, that’s their statements / letters. Each one by itself is a rather clever ad-format, giving a personal touch with the children telling their parents what they will do if they are not changing their electricity. However, when hung on a row, all of the posts adds up to a very non thougth-through campaign. Swedes, read each post and reflect what the children are actually telling each parent. For you english readers, here is a translation, as close as I thought possible to the original:


Molly: Dad, if you change to clean electricity I promise not to be sick for next February, maybe even March.


Viola: Mom, if you don’t change to clean electricity I will tell grandma that you are secretly smoking.


Leo: Dad, if you change to clean electricity I promise I will laugh at all of your jokes.


Ali: Mom, if you don’t change to clean electricity your cellphone will be sleeping with the fishes.



First I read them all, and then again, and it struck me. These are four statements, 50% rewarding, 50% punishing. Unfortunately they are not balanced, read again and see what I mean. The mothers has to change for clean electricity or they will be punished, either by getting toldĀ on grandma for smoking or their phones will suffer from *minor* waterdamage. The dads however, will have a healthy child to save him from being home from work and his son will laugh whenever he tells a bad joke.

Bad coincidence? Maybe. Hopefully. The campaign is good, it’s childish, speaks to parents, gives feelings of guilt, feelings of “I can actually help change the world, at least a little”.

Honestly though, that an ad agency did not think of such a basic thing as the secondary message they are sending, and this obvious, is rather bad.

So, what is your secondary message?