Our insights __ Case studies

Helping Britain achieve net zero

Client – EDF

Challenge and approach

Back in 2020, EDF had a reputation problem, lumped as an unwanted member of the Big 6. The new kids on the block – many referencing 100% renewable credentials – were stealing market share. Unlike EDF, these companies were simply offsetting carbon emissions rather than generating clean energy. Notwithstanding, these guys were talking a better game.

  • People were immune to EDF’s zero-carbon energy mix and biggest generator credentials.
  • The propensity for government to invest in EDF’s big infrastructure projects had waned.
  • This had a negative knock-on effect on the morale of EDF’s employees.

Our deliverables

  • Stakeholder engagement strategy
  • Communications plan & KPIs
  • Stakeholder engagement toolkit
  • Social Impact launch assets
  • Without system change, key decisions risk being overlooked.

Our challenge

Create a climate in which people want to be part of EDF’s plans for a zero-carbon future.

The approach

We established four behavioural principles to help us create the conditions for change amongst key stakeholders.

  1. Positivity: Tone was important. In a sea of negativity, we didn’t want to weigh people down.
  2. Chunking: We wanted to make low carbon behaviour as simple as eating one of your 5-a-day.
  3. Authenticity: We wanted to reflect EDF’s commitments in the totality of our communications.
  4. Leadership: We coined and trademarked ‘Net Zero electricity’ long before it became fashionable.

Out of these principles and EDF’s purpose our mission was born: Helping Britain Achieve Net Zero.

The process

Tom Rivett-Carnac talks about three critical factors to drive change: mindset, system, and progress.

  1. Mindset: Teams need a shared appreciation of challenges and opportunities to affect change. As founding members of the Change The Brief Alliance, Havas made this training accessible to all employees and EDF’s marketing team. We were the first client-agency team to complete Level 2 of the programme.
  2. System: Without system change, key decisions risk being overlooked. We mandated the use of critical resources to inform decision-making: Ad Green (co-founders) and partnerships with Greenshoot and Green Screen; Havas Media Group helped launch the IPA Carbon Calculator and was the first agency to join the Conscious Advertising Network, co-creating the Climate and Sustainability manifesto.
  3. Progress: Missions need momentum, and this comes from tight governance and positive stories. We established a regular cadence of meetings to track performance and guide decisions: weekly (short-term metrics), monthly (brand tracking), quarterly (holistic business reviews), ad hoc (changing macro-economic context), and shared positive stories internally (i.e. internal comms) and externally (i.e. Media 360).

In Q4 2020, EDF championed its diverse electricity generation mix and role as a significant contributor to tackling Net Zero with Busy Doing Nothing. The campaign features EDF engineers who have never been busier, helping to reduce UK carbon emissions to nothing.
Attention turned to the British public, to drive consideration of EDF as the brand that offers easy EV charging at great value – especially those who were yet to see the benefits of EV. The spot shows how EDF can help drivers reduce emissions while they sleep, with 100% zero-carbon electricity, all for under £5. This is the company electrifying Britain with the introduction of thousands of charging points available free of charge to EDF customers.

To further increase consumer appeal, we seeded a range of digital shorts that talked to EDF’s Net Zero electricity at no extra cost, and how the 4* Trustpilot-rated customer service team made it easy to go Net Zero. Our homes after all are responsible for 40% of personal carbon emissions.
To capture the attention of world leaders, EDF put the zero in Glasg0w with a giant mural, taxi wraps, billboards, and six-sheets along the routes to and from COP26. It also dominated poster sites outside Waterloo and Westminster to target political decision-makers, showcasing how it is helping Britain achieve Net Zero.

To reduce emissions from production (Action 2 of Ad Net Zero) we…

  • Paid the Ad Green levy to offset any carbon.
  • Used skeleton crews and remote viewing to reduce the number of people on sets.
  • Chose a UK-based director and crew for EV so travel was not an impact.
  • Assessed all third-party production companies for their carbon footprint and approach to sustainability.

To reduce emissions from media planning and buying (Action 3 of Ad Net Zero) we…

  • Shifted investment from live TV to Broadcast VOD (80:20 in 2021 vs 70:30 in 2022).
  • Switched from 30-second ads to 20-second time lengths in AV channels.
  • Used recycled and recyclable materials in OOH (COP26) via JCDecaux, Global and Clear Channel.
  • Minimised impressions in digital plans by focusing EDF customer segments with specific frequency caps.
  • Worked with MiQ and Seen This to stream rather than download digital ads to reduce wasted energy.
  • Deployed DCO to make messages more relevant and therefore minimise wastage.
  • By making these changes, we delivered +9.3% GRPs and -18.1% kgCO2e with a budget reduction of -7.6%


We successfully created a climate in which people wanted to be part of EDF’s plans for a zero-carbon future. And we achieved all of this against a backdrop of extreme volatility in the energy market and the cost-of-living crisis.


Appreciation that EDF is taking action towards Net Zero increased +17.6% between January 2021 and April 2022, with scores hitting a high watermark in March 2022. EDF’s ranking versus competitors improved from sixth to third. This contributed to EDF’s consideration score increasing +9.0% across the same period.

In addition to addressing EDF’s reputation problem, Helping Britain Achieve Net Zero also delivered significant behaviour change, as evidenced by its commercial performance.

EDF’s total accounts increased +15.1% across the period and sales of EDF’s EV tariff rose +40%. Our £8.5m spend delivered +£27.2m incremental revenue (3.2:1 ROI) – £9.1m (33%) via acquisition and £18.1m (67%) retention. Since deploying the new strategy, ROI improved +23.1% versus the two years prior.


MPs are now more favourable towards EDF Energy than any other energy company. EDF Energy ranks second (26%) behind British Gas as ‘the most effective contributors to the energy policy debate’ (26%). And MPs see EDF as the market leader in generating zero-carbon electricity.

In light of our effort, the Prime Minister committed to invest £2bn in Great British Nuclear in April 2022, including £100m to support the development of Sizewell C in a bid to embrace “the safe, clean, affordable new generation of nuclear reactors, taking the UK back to pre-eminence in a field where we once led the world.”


EDF’s-12,000 strong workforce is increasingly proud to tell the story of how they are Helping Britain Achieve Net Zero. 84% said that they believed in our ambition in our latest annual survey (+2% year-on-year) and 72% would recommend EDF as a great place to work (+6% year-on-year).

The mission guides the business and dictates how it does business. It’s the starting point for every Annual Report, CEO Strategic Business Review, Employee Handbook, Training Module and beyond. A mission that is communicated with gusto across every brand touchpoint – internal and external.

This is a demonstration that doing good is good for business – a story of how ambitious plans to create a zero-carbon future and a powerful piece of language united the people, politicians, and employees to drive change.


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