VW plans ‘carbon-neutral net’ followup for Earth Day

Who: Volkswagen Canada with Taxi / Type 1 for creative and strategy.

What: “Day to Zero,” a campaign to mark Earth Day, April 22, that will see VW “power down” its main website to raise awareness about the importance of sustainability efforts, and to make a statement about the automaker’s own commitment to reduce CO2 emissions.

When & Where: The main VW.ca website will be replaced by a special low-emissions landing page for 24 hours. The special website is being promoted through social posts and some email.

Why: Volkswagen has gone all-in on being a more sustainable automaker, including a rapid shift toward a more electric vehicle lineup. It has pledged to be a carbon-neutral company by 2050, and make only fully electric vehicles by 2040.

“As part of our ‘Be The Change’ platform, we have goals to be a fully carbon-neutral company by 2050, and on our journey to get there, we know that every action counts,” said Lynne Piette, head of marketing at Volkswagen Canada, in a release.

According to VW, the power consumption from online activity is responsible for about 4% of all global CO2 emissions. In other words, visiting websites contributes to global warming, so VW will temporarily all-but shut down its website for 24 hours.

How: VW Canada and Type1 scored a big marketing win last year with its “carbon-neutral net,” which saw a section of its website converted to a more sustainable user experience that used less energy with all colour and photographs removed, and images created by ASCII text.

That idea has been adapted this year with VW.ca replaced by a special landing page that features an image of the all-electric ID.Buzz using only ASCII text characters.

“Last year, we worked with Volkswagen to turn their website into a more sustainable browsing experience by turning every image into live ASCII text,” said Allen Kwong, group creative director, Taxi/Type1. “This year, we’re taking an even bolder step: turning Volkswagen’s website off for 24 hours to further educate Canadians about digital carbon footprints.”

VW said the carbon-efficient page will generate up to 93% less CO2 emissions than a standard website. And through a partnership with One Tree Planted, VW will also plant one tree in Canada for every visitor to the site.

And we quote: “[T]his Earth Day we’re powering down our entire site to raise awareness about the Internet’s digital carbon footprint, while also reducing ours—and planting a tree on Canadian soil for every visit on the day to maximize our offsets.” —Lynne Piette, head of marketing at Volkswagen Canada

David Brown