Ecobee sells the smart home’s possibilities

The company's new campaign uses the functionality of voice commands to drive adoption for its thermostat tech.

Smart homes and voice-controlled personal assistants might still seem far off for many consumers, but Ecobee’s new campaign is using their benefits to show how its connected thermostat can give families some control over the traditional chaos of a buzzing home.

The new campaign focuses on the company’s latest model, the Ecobee 4, which features Amazon Alexa built in. The launch spot shows how the smart thermostat can help families, be it through controlling the thermostat with a phone, automatic adjustments through room sensors or using Alexa’s voice service to add items to a shopping list.

The campaign, which will run across Canada and in select U.S. markets, was created by Havas Worldwide Canada. In addition to the launch spot, there are a series of 15-second videos that will be running in social channels, as well as out-of-home.

Ecobee has been a leader when it comes to smart thermostats, being the first to launch a WiFi-enabled thermostat, introduce room sensors and integrating with Apple’s Home Kit and Amazon Alexa. However, Yussef El Kalza, director of brand and communications at Ecobee, says the company is still going up against a “goliath” in the form of Nest, which has a much larger budget to market its line of smart home products, and the new marketing effort is its first shot at getting the benefits of Ecobee in front of a broader audience.

El Kalza says the company has a wealth of research and data on its consumers and knowledge about what drives adoption, but the main insight behind targeting the campaign to families is a much simpler one.

“We think an entire family can get a benefit out of this,” he says. “Being comfortable isn’t just for some techy guy, it’s something for his partner who is cold when they go to bed and want that problem to go away. Or for a kid who wants to ask Alexa a question or play music. You start to see a trend, especially when you bring in voice, that this is a device that has a connection to many more people in the household than just the purchaser.”

Many manufacturers in the smart home space have focused on simplicity when it comes to their smart devices, since some consumers are still intimidated by the idea of installing and operating connected devices. But El Kalza says intimidation is becoming less of a barrier to entry as consumers become more educated. Focusing on the day-to-day use of Ecobee is less about putting consumers’ minds at ease and more about showing them how it can enrich their lives.

“If you talk about a smarthome as a whole, it can feel like the Jetsons, where you wake up and the whole house turns on,” El Kalza says. “But what if you were just getting up to go to the bathroom? All people really want is to fix a problem in their house, like saving money on energy or making the room a more comfortable temperature, not a high-tech futuristic home.

“They are seeing solutions to problems, and that’s what we’re trying to portray, as opposed to the complication of the smart home.”

The Ecobee 4 is currently only available in the U.S., as Amazon’s voice services have yet to launch in Canada. But El Kalza says the product will be ready to launch here as soon as Alexa does, which is why the voice functions still feature so prominently in the ad on top of existing Ecobee features.

When it comes to a product like Ecobee, some consumers aren’t able to get away from their traditional understanding of the basic, singular use thermostat, which is why the range of features (especially those offered by Alexa) are displayed so prominently in the ad.

“We are also portraying this idea of not just having it respond to what people would expect, which is just to turn up or turn down the temperature,” he says. “It has the variety of things you can have Alexa do in another location if your Dot is in another room. So it’s about educating the customer about the added functionality voice brings.”