PBP teams with H&K on electric-car initiative

JERUSALEM: Project Better Place (PBP) and AOR Hill & Knowlton have teamed up with Renault-Nissan to launch an international campaign to highlight Israel's becoming the first nation to adopt PBP's electronic car infrastructure.

Jerusalem: Project Better Place (PBP) and AOR Hill & Knowlton have teamed up with Renault-Nissan to launch an international campaign to highlight Israel's becoming the first nation to adopt PBP's electronic car infrastructure.

Palo Alto, CA-based PBP is a business development group that is creating an international infra-structure of battery-charging spots for the powering of electric cars.

The goal of the campaign is to influence other countries or cities to adopt the infrastructure as well.

H&K, which is handling international media outreach for the project, organized press conferences in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem on January 21 featuring Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Israel President Shimon Peres, Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn, and PBP founder Shai Agassi.

Joe Paluska, head of H&K's worldwide technology practice, said the media strategy behind the announcement of the partnership included pre-briefing the Financial Times, International Herald Tribune, Time, and BusinessWeek prior to the press conferences in Israel. The conferences drew both local journalists and foreign correspondents, followed by media availability in Davos, Switzerland, where Agassi is touting his project at the annual World Economic Forum.

"Because all global media have bureaus in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, we could get both local media and all the foreign correspondents with Israeli bureaus to attend the press event at Olmert's office in the morning, and then also get attendance at the press conference at Peres' residency in the afternoon," Paluska said. "The wires really helped because they got a lot of pickup in other countries. [For example], the Orlando Sentinel came out with an editorial, on [its] own, in support of Project Better Place."

Outreach also included viral components, such as a video promotion of fifth graders explaining the concept of a network of electric cars. The video promotion, created by brand and design consultancy Addis Creson for YouTube's Davos-related channel, tied into this year's conference theme, "the power of collaboration."

Addis Creson helped create the Web site and branding for PBP and is also working on a "consumer-facing," as-yet-unnamed group that in Israel will create and promote branding for cars. The organization will seek to promote both the name of the infrastructure entity used to power the electric car, as well as the car itself.

Addis Creson CEO Steven Creson said that any consumer branding needed to be internationally viable if the campaign wanted to entice similar electric car infrastructures around the world.

Renault-Nissan currently has a deal with Israel to receive subsidies for producing electric cars that would run on the planned infrastructure there. Because other car manufacturers would also be able to run on the network both in Israel and in other countries that might create similar electric car networks, the branding would be flexible enough to accommodate many different participants, he explained.

"We're creating a global brand, with its first market being Israel," said Creson. "The name has to be accessible in every language, every dialect, in terms of sounds that are pronounceable.

Creson compared this campaign to co-brand efforts to the collaboration between Intel chips and computers brands or of cell-phone and wireless-service providers.

"There's going to be an eco-system of brands that will all share the space," he added. "For instance, a lot of people would describe their notebook as a Centrino notebook, so that what comes inside the computer is as important as the computer itself."

Ultimately, the organization and the branding campaign should be good for the image of the car industry as a whole, which may be portrayed a source of pollution, when in fact it could be portrayed as a solution, said Creson.

"I think it will have very positive, halo effects on the car manufacturers because it will be very much part of the solution [to energy problems]," Creson said. "What's exciting about this is that the car is not the enemy; it's the solution. It's what fuels the car. People can continue with their normal lives and don't have to make radical shifts, [nor] compromise and have less than their normal experience."

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