5 flights used during filming of BC Hydro's electric road trip ad, documents show
VANCOUVER -- The crew and star of a commercial meant to promote electric cars actually spent a lot of time on fossil-fuelled planes, FOI documents obtained by Bob Mackin of theBreaker.news show.
And that could dilute the otherwise positive message BC Hydro was trying to share about electric vehicles and the province’s electric charging infrastructure, said Lindsay Meredith, a marketing expert and professor emeritus at Simon Fraser University.
“The optics become a bit two-faced, because on the one hand we’re preaching electric car energy consumption, and on the other hand we’re using one of the biggest squanderers of fossil fuels in the world: it’s called an airplane,” said Meredith.
The series of four videos follows the adventures of Dave, a BC Hydro employee who drives from Tofino to the Alberta border. Along the way, he meets fellow EV owners who talk about how much they pay to run their car (about $20 to $30 a month). The EV owners and Dave repeatedly demonstrate B.C.’s charging stations as they try to show that drivers can get right across the province driving their zero emissions electric vehicles.
The documents show a crew of four people, plus Dave, cost about $21,000 in travel expenses. The total bill for the green road trip campaign -- including production -- totalled $218,500, the documents show.
Documents show the production wasn’t exactly as green as it appeared. At different points of the shooting schedule, the crew flew from Vancouver to Tofino, Nanaimo to Vancouver, Kamloops to Vancouver and Vancouver to Kamloops. At the end, they all flew home.
But BC Hydro says the choice to fly was the most efficient use of staff time for its in-house marketing staff.
BC Hydro spokesperson Susie Rieder explained that the “road trip” depicted in the ad campaign was not a typical car journey – because it was a filmed commercial.
“It required a lot of equipment and a lot of other things besides just luggage,” Rieder said. “So some other means of travel were necessitated.”
BC Hydro has saved money by taking its marketing in-house, Rieder said, a move that has cut the Crown corporation’s ad campaigns budget in half.
“To save our employees time to get them back to the office quicker, we opted to take flights,” Rieder said.
Rieder said the purpose of the ad campaign was “to show British Columbians how easy it is to drive an electric vehicle and tell them about our infrastructure across the province, including our DC fast chargers.”
But Meredith said there’s a danger of BC Hydro’s customers falling “out of love” with the company’s message if they find out the company isn’t backing up its words with action.
“The problem is when this information gets loose and it gets on social networks, it detracts from the message, it weakens it,” he said.
Rieder said driving an electric car is a good choice for British Columbians who want to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, because 98 per cent of the electricity generated in B.C. is from hydro.
With files from CTV News Vancouver's St. John Alexander.