Following a major rebrand and rollout of new technologies, utility company AEP Ohio, was challenged with changing consumer perceptions and promoting their new technologies implemented to benefit the lives of their customers and the communities in which they reside.
Event Marketing Strategies in collaboration with AEP Ohio developed The Smart Energy Experience, an educational outreach program targeting AEP Ohio residents to promote smart energy technologies and associated consumer benefits as well as showcase AEP Ohio’s commitment to the community.
A customizable display able to fit within 10’ x10’ to 20’ x 20’ or 10’ x 40’ footprints feature a variety of engaging and interactive components to facilitate conversations around smart meter technologies between guests and Brand Ambassadors.
Housed under a branded tent resembling a home makes for a warm and inviting guest experience. The focal point, a life-like kitchen island, displays a set of iPads featuring two of AEP Ohio’s mobile apps—one that assist customers with bill pay and easy outage reporting and the other provides smart meter owners greater control over their energy usage, saving electricity and money.
Most popular with kids and families are two photo experiences. The Lineworker cutout lets guests put their face into an image of two AEP Ohio Lineworkers for a fun photo to share and the linesman bucket photo opportunity allows guests to climb into a real Lineworker bucket and wear actual safety gear creating a scene that looks like guests are off the ground near powerlines. Snapping a photo on their personal devices, guests can share it via Twitter or Instagram utilizing the hashtag #AEPOhio for a complimentary photo souvenir printed on-site immediately!
A Smart Technology Kiosk features a digital interface allowing guests to enter their personal location or address to discover when they can expect a Smart Meter to be installed at their home. An Energy Efficiency Kiosk features a game where guests can turn on and off and move up or down everyday household items—a hair dryer, thermostat, game console and smart light switch—to explore the potential cost impact of their electric usage and phantom power.
To further reach communities and audiences, the display also offers fun coloring pages with energy related drawings for children to color and take home and a “Letters to the Military” station providing blank letters for guests to send a note of thanks or encouragement to local service men and women.
For the tech-savvy crowds, an augmented reality experience allows guests to utilize iPads to explore three rooms – the kitchen, living room and garage by hovering iPads over trigger points on the back drops to reveal animated messages around AEP Ohio energy benefits, tips and savings within the home. Utilizing Augmented Reality glasses, guests can view a 3-D video of Columbus to learn about the upcoming of distribution automation circuit reconfiguration (DACR) control systems and Volt Var optimization technologies highlighting their capacity to reroute power in less than 3 seconds to keep AEP Ohio customers’ “lights on”.
The Smart Energy Experience has participated in a variety of events ranging from home shows, county fairs, to local community festivals and the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. Events attracted as few as 1,000 to as many as 500,000 attendees depending on the size and reach.
Since its inception in 2017, The Smart Energy Experience has participated in 28 events throughout Ohio and will complete another 28 by December for a total of 56 event activations between 2017 and 2019. Over three years, the display will have activated 242 event days and directly expose well over 50,000 booth attendees to the Smart Energy Experience educational and outreach messaging. Survey data captured on-site via iPads gathering basic participant information on consumer’s home type and knowledge of AEP Ohio services, has shed some light on the effectiveness of the program’s ability to change consumer perception and improve knowledge of smart meters. Of the nearly 500 surveys captured thus far, 65 percent of guests at events have heard of smart meters and 54 percent entered that they believe it is easy to do business with AEP Ohio, a 20% increase since the launch of the program. Outreach efforts have also shown an increase of AEP Ohio mobile apps downloads by 25 percent.
The smart meter installation rollout slated to be completed by 2020 will conclude the focus on smart meter communication, and shift the program to educating AEP Ohio customers on new DACR and Volt Var infrastructure technologies of the future.