Shaw enlists gamers in a ‘Tree Spree’ for Earth Month

The internet service provider touts it gaming bona fides in a way that offsets the emissions from devices.

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Shaw is inviting gamers to celebrate Earth Month by participating in what the telco is calling a “Tree Spree.”

“With Shaw’s ‘Brighter Together’ platform, we’re always looking for ways to improve both the connected world and the world in general through technology,” explains Sean O’Connor, creative director at Rethink, the agency that created the platform for Shaw last year.

The campaign launched with a series of Twitch live streams hosted by a group of gamers. Shaw decided to zero in on that target after being named Canada’s best internet service provider for gaming by PCMag, a title it claimed for having the lowest latency and jitter – which have more of an impact on the gaming experience than things like download speeds – on its network compared to other ISPs. For each tree planted by the gamers in their game of choice during an hour-long stream, Shaw agreed to plant one in the real world.

“We’ve got lots of casual gamers on the Shaw team and we noticed that a lot of the most popular games today – Animal Crossing, Stardew Valley and Minecraft – allow users to plant trees,” O’Connor adds. “Given the environmental climate we’re in today, we just thought it would be great if all those digital trees were real ones instead.”

The streamers “were really, really engaged in the challenge – and so were their viewers,” says O’Connor. In total, they planted 3,887 in-game trees during their collective live-streaming efforts.

“We did have a hunch that they’d go all in on any sort of challenge thrown at them. Especially one that resulted in real-world impact.”

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The “Tree Spree” doesn’t end with the live streams, however. Gaming devices are estimated to use a collective 34 terawatt hours of energy a year – the equivalent of 5 million cars – so to ensure enabling gaming doesn’t undermine its sustainability initiatives, Shaw has partnered with Tree Canada to plant more than 14,000 trees in order to offset emissions.

It has also been allowing gamers to continue the “Spree” by posting a screenshot of one of their own in-game trees to social media using the hashtag #ShawTreeSpree, and it will plant one in their name.

O’Connor says the response to the live streams has made him hopeful “it’ll get a lot more people in the gaming community thinking about their environmental footprint and what they can do to help offset it.”

“If we had just planted some trees and put out a social post or press release telling people no one would have cared – but beyond that, they wouldn’t have paid attention to the severity of the issue,” he adds. “With the ‘Tree Spree’ we not only were able to get an audience’s undivided attention for hours on end, but we continue to engage all month long as more gamers share pictures of their digital trees that we are able to turn into real ones.”