British Gas Goes a New Route

Here to Solve

British Gas


British Gas launched its new “Here To Solve” campaign in February 2020, looking to reposition the brand as a business that actively helps its customers, not simply an energy supplier. A month after launch, as we know, its customers’ world changed completely.

Covid-19 has posed big questions for every brand, but it’s presented opportunities too. British Gas workers, who literally help keep the country’s lights on, are essential workers during the pandemic even if they’re not on the frontlines. “Here To Solve” could be the perfect positioning to showcase them – but only if the brand got the execution right.

The resulting “Here To Solve” ad scored 4.6-Stars in our Test Your Ad system – a strong score by any standards but exceptionally good for the energy sector, which tends to produce quite dull, feature-centric ads that lack emotion. The spot also got decent short term Spike and Brand Fluency scores, showing the emotion is making a branded impact.

So what did British Gas get right? The basic message of the ad is the same as literally hundreds of other Covid-19 themed ads – we’re here to help – but the style is entirely different from the formulaic work that’s been so criticised lately.

The ad is a first-person view by a British Gas worker (wearing a head camera) as he goes about his day during the UK’s lockdown. There’s right-brained betweenness, as he says good morning to his partner and daughter, but there’s also lots of left-brained camera trickery and rapid cuts, which are often a barrier to ads getting emotional traction.

What makes this work? Two things. Firstly it tells a coherent story which brings to life how busy (and useful) our protagonist is, so the rapid cuts are in service of a simple single narrative. And secondly, gluing that narrative together is an inspired choice of music – Offenbach’s boisterous Can-Can. This immediately tilts the emotional tone of the piece – what could have been earnest becomes gleeful and celebratory. It’s an ad that’s a real spirit-lifter, just at the time it’s most needed.

We’ve been talking a lot at System1 about how the nation has moved on from looking for reassurance (to deal with Fear) to craving some kind of entertainment and escape (to deal with Sadness) during lockdown. “Here To Solve” is a perfect bridge between those two modes, and also proves that execution, not message, is what makes an ad really hit home.