What Disney can teach you about messaging to utility customers (yes, Disney)


Dean Schiller is a former Walt Disney executive who contributed to animated classics such as Aladdin and The Lion King. Now he runs CEIVA, a home energy management supplier. When I learned that his company has been adapting Disney techniques to utility customer engagement, I asked if we could share his tips with readers. The examples come from Glendale Water & Power, which is not far from Disney Studios. - Jesse Berst


By Dean Schiller


Keeping conservation messages cool in the dog days of summer

As we march into the hottest days of the year, utilities want - need, in fact - their customers to change behavior and conserve energy.


Customers are often well-intentioned about saving energy, yet they often don’t make significant changes. Conservation tips can feel stale, boring and vague - which means they’ll be ignored.


Utility programs that can keep summer conservation messages fresh will be the ones that make a meaningful impact, achieving energy efficiency goals. Southern California municipal utility Glendale Water & Power worked with CEIVA Energy to roll out a series of visually and emotionally engaging conservation messages to their customers via CEIVA’s in-home digital display that helped the utility reduce energy during summer’s hottest days.


CEIVA applies lessons learned from years telling stories at Disney Animation to help utilities inspire their customers to reduce energy. They are experts at communicating familiar ideas via fresh, entertaining messages. This approach is proven to be effective at boosting understanding of energy and water usage, and inspiring customers to change behavior to reduce energy. Tellingly, nearly 90% of GWP customers reported that they liked the messages they received.