New stuff is scary. Always has been. As human beings, we are pre-programmed to be suspicious of new things. Airplanes, automobiles, microwave ovens, and smartphones — all of them created great anxiety when they were first introduced, and every one of them are so totally, utterly normal today that no one even remembers what we were so afraid of. [Full disclosure: I was the last person I know to buy a microwave oven and I would go hide in another room while it was in operation.]
In the cloistered towers of CleanTechnica world headquarters, we often discuss why education is so important to moving the EV revolution ahead. Just the other day, while noshing on organic andouille sausage made from fermented kale, Zachary pointed out that the only people who don’t like electric cars are people who have never driven an electric car.
Electrify America, the division of Volkswagen created to assuage its guilt over Dieselgate, has created a number of television and radio ads aimed at demystifying EVs. It is prohibited by its agreement with federal and state authorities from advertising its own products, so some of those ads have featured a Chevy Bolt while others have riffed on the Flintstones theme to suggest conventional cars are so yesterday.
Its latest ad campaign, created by San Francisco ad agency Eleven, is entitled Normal Now and stresses that electric cars are not new and scary any more. In fact, they are rapidly becoming the new normal. The campaign will feature online videos, streaming TV ads, digital banner ads, social media ads, paid search, and streaming audio and podcast. It is part of a $42 million educational package that will run through the end of 2021. The new electric cars from Volkswagen are expected in US showrooms by then.
“A large percentage of the car buying public cite functional concerns about EVs, like range anxiety, charge time and cost, as reasons why they wouldn’t drive electric; however, the Normal Now campaign is inspired by the insight that there is actually a deeper, more emotional set of barriers standing in the way of consideration and adoption,” said Richard Steinberg, Senior Director of Green Cities, Marketing and Communications at Electrify America. “We believe that fear of change and lack of exposure to EVs in pop culture is making people view electric vehicles as too different from what they’re used to, and therefore are striving to normalize EVs with this latest educational campaign.”
Electrify America has created a new website that begins this way: “Remember when websites used to look like this? New technology always seems weird at first. Take electric cars. They may seem a little different. But with faster recharging times, longer vehicle ranges, and lots of models to choose from, they’re just like driving a typical gas-powered car. So, come back to the twenty-first century. Scroll down to learn how electric cars are normal now.”
What follows is a series of 15 second ads that focus on one new technology and point out how what was once considered strange is now utterly conventional. “Yes, people scratched their heads when the flying machine, computer, and cell phone were introduced, but soon after these advancements became woven into our everyday lives,” says Mike McKay, chief creative officer for Eleven. “We believe the electric car is becoming fully embraced as well, and our Normal Now campaign is a simple reminder that electric cars are here to stay.”
As one CleanTechnica reader commented recently, “You never flew in an airplane — until you did. You never created a website — until you did. You never sent an e-mail — until you did.” Volkswagen and Electrify America may be doing this under duress, but they are doing it well nonetheless. If only more car dealers would be as forthright about educating consumers, sponsoring EV test drives, and training staff about electric cars, the EV revolution would move forward a whole lot more quickly.
Electric cars — they’re normal now. And not a moment too soon.