You’ve got energy drama.

Here’s the reality from our Energy Pulse study:

  • 80% of us think we don’t use more energy than we did five years ago.
  • 49% of us think our homes are already energy efficient, thank you very much.
  • Surprisingly, then, 50% of us claim to have made between one and three improvements to make our homes more energy efficient.
  • But … most of these folks claim their utility bills have stayed the same or gone up. In fact, 63% of us say our utility bills have gone up over the last year.
  • So most of us don’t think we actually need energy efficiency … the rest of us think it doesn’t matter what we do to be more efficient – our utility bills are just going to keep going up, so why bother.
  • And in the midst of that, utilities, manufacturers and retailers are spending billions of dollars every year to get Americans to be more energy efficient … essentially marketing something most of us don’t want or think we don’t need.


So we’ve learned over the years that in order for energy efficiency marketing to be effective, you have to go to market with a one-two punch:

  1. Wake people up to the fact that they have an energy efficiency problem.
  2. Then drive them to prescriptive solutions to solve the problem.

This is trickier than it sounds. You can’t just run ads saying, “You have an energy efficiency problem!” Most people will roll their eyes, or completely ignore you. Instead, you have to show them a situation they’re familiar with … and let it sink in/dawn on them that “ohhhhhh … maybe I do have a problem.”

That’s the premise behind our Avoid Energy Drama PSA campaign, running now in the state of Michigan. The campaign, sponsored by Michigan Saves with support from DTE, Consumers Energy and Dow, shows a couple of common scenarios that we’ve all experienced – the battle over the thermostat (somebody always wants to turn it up while somebody else wants to turn it down) and the battle over a home improvement (somebody often wants to tackle it himself while someone else wants to get professional help). This is all energy drama … which is the result of an energy efficiency problem.

So far, so good. We’re four months into a 12-month campaign and have some strong results (and if you’re not familiar with PSA campaigns, there is no paid media … the goal is to get the stations to run the ads for free):


  • The campaign has already aired on half the network TV stations in Michigan.
  • Those airings, plus radio and online runs, have garnered 5,338,794 true media impressions (excluding PR) toward an annual goal of 16 million.


  • On the campaign website, we’ve exceeded unique visitor goals at 3,483 (the goal was 2,500).


  • 47% of those visitors to the website have clicked on a sponsor logo.

If you’re in the energy efficiency business, drive your target audiences here: Helping folks realize they’ve got energy drama in their homes will get us a lot further toward helping people understand they have a problem that needs to be fixed. After all, who really wants to be a drama queen?

About the Author

Suzanne Shelton

Suzanne Shelton

Where Suzanne sees opportunity, you can bet results will follow. Drawing on her extensive knowledge of both the advertising world and the energy and environment arena, Suzanne provides unparalleled strategic insights to our clients and to audiences around North America. Suzanne is a guest columnist in multiple publications and websites, such as GreenBiz, and she speaks at around 20 conferences a year, including Sustainable Brands, Fortune Brainstorm E and Green Build.

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Suzanne Shelton

President and CEO

Suzanne is the voice and the vision of Shelton Group. Drawing on her extensive experience in energy and the environment – and 25+ years in the marketing and advertising industry – Suzanne provides high-level strategic insights for our clients and guidance for our research and creative departments. She regularly speaks at conferences around the country, including Sustainable Brands, Fortune Brainstorm E and the International Builders’ Show, and serves as a guest columnist for publications like Fast Company, Green Builder and

Susannah Enkema

VP Research & Insights

Susannah directs our research team and plays a key role in extracting the nuggets of information that pave the way for recommended marketing strategies and creative approaches. Susannah has nearly two decades of market research and strategy experience, including her role as president of SE Consulting, where she led the services for the likes of DIY Network and the makers of GORE-TEX®.

Matt Brass

VP Creative

Matt steers the creative department in concepting, designing and producing campaigns. He ensures sound strategy and deep insights inform everything his team develops, and works closely with the accounts department to ensure copy and designs will meet our clients’ goals. As a designer and filmmaker himself, he’s also a principal contributor to all of Shelton’s in-house photography and videography work.

Courtnay Hamachek

VP Operations

Courtnay oversees our day-to-day operations to keep us running smoothly and support our growth. She establishes project management systems and processes to help our teams anticipate bottlenecks, prevent process issues, and keep projects on time and on target. Courtnay has built extensive experience over 25 years in all aspects of marketing, from account services and project management to design and production.

Aaron Crecy

Digital Marketing Director

Aaron is responsible for planning, executing and measuring digital marketing strategies for Shelton Group and our clients, with an emphasis on inbound, content, SEO, social media, email and paid initiatives. He constantly researches and explores new tactics and strategies to improve digital campaign performance and results.

Aaron brings to the table more than 20 years of marketing leadership experience with premium consumer-facing brands. He came to Shelton Group by way of Malibu Boats, where, as Director of Global Marketing, he oversaw strategic marketing planning and execution for multiple product lines, with specific emphasis on social media and digital. Prior to that, he served as CMO for a leading daily fantasy sports operator, guiding it from startup to the industry’s third-ranked site.

Scot Case

Senior Consultant

A sustainability strategy consultant since 1993, Scot has served as non-profit leader, as a partner in an environmental marketing firm that he grew and sold, and as an executive in a multi-billion-dollar, international company. He has published dozens of articles and case studies, was co-author of the original “Sins of Greenwashing” study, testified before Congress, and been quoted on NPR, Good Morning America, CNN, The New York Times, Business Week, and the Wall Street Journal. Scot was also highlighted in an Emmy award-winning documentary on sustainable purchasing.

Casey Ward

VP Account Services

Casey manages our relationships, growth and development with a specific group of clients that includes Environmental Defense Fund, Cotton LEADS and CertainTeed Insulation. She provides leadership and support for the account team members who manage the day-to-day processes for these clients. She contributes to strategic direction for each client and guides our creative efforts to ensure everything we do builds toward meeting – or exceeding – the client’s goals. Her ability to simultaneously see the big picture and pay close attention to the details helps her champion her clients’ needs and identify new growth opportunities for them.