Petro-Canada unveils ‘Canada’s Electric Highway’

Who: Petro-Canada, McCann, OMD (media), Steam Films (production), Saints Editorial/Darling (post), Grayson Matthews (audio).

What: “Welcome to the Electric Highway,” a national bilingual campaign introducing “Canada’s Electric Highway”—Petro-Canada’s coast-to-coast network of EV charging stations located along the Trans Canada Highway. It resides under the brand’s “Live by the leaf” positioning which was introduced last year.

The EV fast chargers are currently free to use, although Petro Canada plans to implement time-based pricing beginning in the fall. According to Petro-Canada, its systems will enable a typical EV to charge in 30 minutes or less.

When & Where: The integrated campaign debuted on Sept. 17 with TV and online video, with social and out-of-home to follow. There is one 30-second spot, plus two 15s (see them all below).

Why: It’s an awareness campaign, showcasing how the fuel retailer is adapting its business to cater to the growing electric vehicle (EV) movement. A recent report from the International Energy Agency says that EVs will make up 30% of all new vehicle sales in Canada by 2030.

A brand rooted in fossil fuels promoting EV technology? “The Petro-Canada brand is all about keeping Canadians moving, and they know that the world is transitioning toward a low-carbon future, which is why this is such a great move,” says McCann’s chief strategy officer, Dustin Rideout. “It simply offers another way that Canadians want to fuel themselves to keep moving.

“You don’t need to overtly go into environmental or green [messaging]. It’s really simple: Petro-Canada sells fuel, and electricity is a new type of fuel. If you’re a brand that’s all about keeping Canadians moving, to be able to do that against something as iconic as the Trans-Canada Highway presented a really amazing opportunity.”

How: Shot overnight on a stretch of highway outside Kananaskis, Alta., the 30-second spot shows a road crew painting white lines on the highway. The reveal is that the lines are actually electrical bolts.

“It’s a highway that takes [drivers] from the Rockies to the Maritimes, and it’s been around for quite some time” says McCann’s executive creative director, Josh Stein, of the highway that opened in 1962 and was completed in 1971. “While the highway hasn’t really changed physically, our ability to get from point A to point B has changed dramatically.”

And we quote: “It’s showing that all of a sudden, the highway as we know it is different. We captured the emotion and the spirit we wanted to convey, and it fits with Petro-Canada’s tone of voice.”—Josh Stein, executive creative director, McCann Canada.



Chris Powell