Brilliant Solar Ads Say Screw The Environment, It's About Paying Less

SunRun’s new ad campaign focuses on the financial realities of solar power: In many places it’s really cheap and the company will install your panels for free. It’s a new attitude for clean power marketing.

SunRun is a solar company with an interesting model: Instead of just selling you solar panels, they pay to put them on your house, and then you pay them for the energy those panels provide. In other words, for no upfront costs you can start having access to a source of clean energy. What you may not know is that in many places, solar is now the cheapest form of power you can buy, and that list is growing rapidly. To ram this point home, SunRun has just created a brilliant advertising campaign that makes it clear that solar power is a smart financial decision, and not one just for silly hippies.

All the ads in the new campaign (created by the San Francisco agency Heat) feature a voiceover exclaiming how good for the environment solar power is, only to be corrected by the new SunRun customers: It’s about the cash. The one above features your typical urban hipster "pickling guy." Despite wanting some "soy flax seeds," he doesn’t care that solar is good for the environment, he just wants cheap solar. And this nice couple in the video below really doesn’t care about dolphin babies as much as they care about money.

We’ve often talked about what happens when solar becomes cheaper than coal nationally, and this campaign is hopefully just the start of a long re-education of the masses about the cost of power. Now that solar often is cheaper than coal, it needs to shed the image of being the power source equivalent of shopping at Whole Foods—that you’re paying more to do good things for the planet—and start being just the thing that smart, frugal people have. This last spot, featuring a nice down-to-earth guy who works in his garage and doesn’t care about the environment, is a good start:

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  • veggiedude

    If people really cared about the environment, why do they eat so much meat?

  • Leroy Bonanza

    LoL, makes perfect sense, A+B=L, hahahahaha (and yes I get the concept of our point, it's just kinda silly)

  • Tor Valenza

    While I commend SunRun for spending the ad dollars to produce and distribute these, I think they enforce the stereotype that solar is for rich people, and they themselves have done studies that show the opposite. Nevertheless, the characters here seem snobby and vane, and the various sets/surroundings don't help diffuse that notion.

    That being said, the message that people are going solar for the savings rather than for green reasons is a good one. I just wish they'd done it in a more consumer friendly way. Potential solar consumers should relate to positive characters... and these are self-involved at best, snobby at worst. Why would I want to be like one of these people and go solar?

    Ironically, the more they publicize these, the more they will give ammunition to solar naysayers and hurt the industry, so I hope they reconfigure rather than spend a ton of money pushing this campaign.