Canadian smart home brand ecobee runs North American ad push with FCB/Six

Who: ecobee, with FCB/Six for strategy and creative, and Cossette for media.

What: “What home could be,” a new North American brand campaign for the Canadian connected home brand.

When & Where: The campaign has been running across North America since March. The focus in Canada is digital media, with creative running on TV and OOH in some markets, and heavier buys in test markets like Austin, Texas.

Why: After establishing itself as a smart thermostat brand, ecobee has more recently expanded into the wider smart home category—including monitoring systems using smart cameras and sensors. However, it has not done a lot of advertising to drive awareness for its new products.

The ecobee marketing team wanted a full-funnel campaign to drive awareness that could be used as a “road map” for future product marketing, said Priyanka Goswami, senior vice-president, head of strategy at FCB/Six.

From a practical perspective, the agency also needed to create a lot of long-lasting assets. “You constantly need more content to fill this customer journey,” said Goswami. “So they asked, ‘How do we do that?’ We gave them a campaign solution but also with an array of assets that they can use.”

Originally ecobee was thinking purely digital, she said. “But as the creative evolved… they saw so much more potential for this bold advertising and channel mix so we took it to different levels, including TV and out of home.”

How: The campaign cornerstone is a 60-second video ad that uses a teenage girl who takes the viewer through her family’s boldly coloured home, explaining in simple terms the way ecobee products can be used. The creative shows ecobee’s devices working together to provide comfort and security for the whole family.

“Because the smart home category is so new, it is not something people are clamouring for, so they had to build demand and explain products and services at the same time,” said FCB/Six executive creative director, Colin Craig.

At the same time, the creative needed to tackle a second challenge for the brand: the category is led by a couple of larger brands, Google’s Nest and Amazon’s Ring (perhaps you’ve heard of them?).

“We knew we needed a platform and approach that allowed us to explain features and put them in context,” said Craig. “But then we knew we needed a strongly branded solution… We wanted to put something in market that was unmistakably ecobee.”

The advantage was that ecobee wasn’t starting from scratch. It had a “gorgeous brand,” with bold colours and distinct fonts, but hadn’t yet tied it all together in a communications campaign that used story and emotion, said Craig. Aside from the bold colouring, the creative makes recurring use of ecobee’s “squircle” shape and “Be” mnemonic device.

And we quote: “Through this campaign, we chose to see home not for what it is, but for what it could be—free from friction and filled with magic.” —ecobee CMO and CRO Kevin Banderk.

David Brown