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IHAVEANIDEA.ORG > articles >  Catching up with the Tomorrow Awards Winners // Fiat eco:Drive

Catching up with the Tomorrow Awards Winners // Fiat eco:Drive

Posted on September 14, 2010 and read 2,248 times

Catching up with the Tomorrow Awards Winners // Fiat eco:Drive thumbnail

rafikcreditpic  Catching up with the Tomorrow Awards Winners // Fiat eco:DriveRafik Belmesk
Operations, AKOS

The call for entries deadline for Winter 2011 of the Tomorrow Awards is fast approaching. It has always been our mission at ihaveanidea to not only celebrate incredible, forward-thinking work through the Tomorrow Awards, but to help educate the industry about what goes into creating such work. In that spirit, we have been featuring interviews with the winners and shortlisted entries, to give you all a little taste of what’s needed to stand out at the Tomorrow Awards.

  Catching up with the Tomorrow Awards Winners // Fiat eco:Drive

Beyond celebrating the best and most innovative work our industry has to offer, the Tomorrow Awards set up to let everybody know and understand the how behind every winning and shortlisted campaign.

To that effect, we recently had the chance to catch up with AKQA’s Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer James Hilton to chat about one of our five winners, Fiat eco:Drive, to see how the campaign came about and  hear where they intend to take the platform in the future…

Tomorrow: One of the reasons eco:Drive was awarded despite having won everything beforehand is its constant development state. Usually when the ad industry delivers a campaign, the moment the client signs off, the work is done and everyone leaves. But you guys kept on going and going with eco: Drive and keep making it better.  Could you tell us how involved are you guys in the next phase of development for this tool?

James: Completely involved. When we launched it initially it was always in BETA. There wasn’t any big fan-fare to the launch because we wanted to see how people used it. We put the catalyst out there by creating eco:Drive, but it was far more important for us to understand how people used it and the new ways they’d find to use it.

Whenever a product goes out, people always find new ways to use it than the original developers had intended. So that’s the thing that we were hoping to understand. And that’s why we used the community to help with that who fed back with their ideas, thoughts and concerns.

So we took all that on board, and we’re in constant state of developing eco:Drive, and adding things to it. And the community really enjoys that. They enjoy the fact that we use them as a test-bed, rather than a big automotive company releasing a product and going on to do something else. It’s very much part of the Fiat ethno that the people that use their products, the drivers, are part of the Fiat world as well. It’s a very reciprocal relationship.

At the moment we’re releasing eco:Drive Fleet. We talk about saving CO2, we talk about emissions, we talk about driving,a but what’s the real benefit? What’s the straight forward, feel it now benefit for someone?

It’s money.

We’re not shy about that. On the eco:Drive dashboard you’ll find how much money have you saved. And as soon as you start doing that, as soon as you start applying real life consequences to stuff, then people engage.

So if you’re an individual driver, you’ll save a bit. You’ll save 20-30 pounds a year or whatever. But if you’re a fleet owner, and you have a fleet of 200 cars, those savings start adding up, and suddenly it becomes business critical because it’s soon going to reach the point where you can afford more cars from the money you save by using eco:Drive. So there’s an even greater benefit for people like that.

And from there, the sky’s the limit. There’s no reason why this can’t be taken into logistic firms, into trucks, for the guys who drive thousands and thousands of miles every year. This tool can help them become better drivers, reduce emissions, and help company owners reduce their costs and save money. So everybody wins.

Screen shot 2010 07 27 at 11.18.15 AM  Catching up with the Tomorrow Awards Winners // Fiat eco:Drive

Tomorrow: So your mandate with Fiat is very much on going…

James: Absolutely. With ideas like this you never stop thinking, you continually want to improve it and make things better. We started getting more and more information out of the cars to make it better. There’s no point in telling somebody “you’re heavy on your breaking” if you don’t show them why and how to fix it.

Tomorrow: And how do you bill a client for something that’s perpetual?

James: Well we’re retained by Fiat so there’s an on going relationship. Since the day we started AKQA, which is 15 years ago this year, we’ve never been that interested in doing projects. We want to have on going relationships with our clients. We’re partners and that’s how we move forward. That allows us to take things like eco:Drive and mature them, rather than banging it out over six months and somebody else takes over.

It’s a lovely place to be, but we work very hard to have those relationships because our clients recognize that if we are long-term partners with them, we can offer them so much more creativity and innovation and help them be the pioneers of their industry.

Tomorrow: How did the campaign first come about? What were the initial meetings like? Did they come for something more traditional like a website or a banner and you ended up with that?

James: This is again one of the luxurious things about being at AKQA. Clients that we work with are as hungry for innovation as we are. So what happened is that our clients and their technicians realized that they could pull data from the car.  They already had a technology in their cars called Blue & Me that was developed by Microsoft, and was essentially a USB port in the car.  These things were originally put in with the thought that you could put MP3s on a USB stick and stick it in the car. But then the question of could data come the other way started being asked.

Screen shot 2010 07 27 at 11.33.20 AM  Catching up with the Tomorrow Awards Winners // Fiat eco:Drive

It was a kind of collaborative discussion between AKQA and Fiat. They came to us originally saying: “we think we can get this data out of the car. What could we do with it? How could we use the data to help people with their driving?”

So this is how Fiat and AKQA approached this project. It evolved over time and we very quickly understood that we could make sense of this data in a very obvious way. You’re accelerating too hard, your turns are sloppy, etc. And from that, using some incredibly complex algorithms that I am not even going to pretend to understand, our technologists working with Fiat’s were able to turn this hard data into CO2 emission levels, fuel usage and money saved. And at that point it was clear that eco:Drive was going to be something special.

Tomorrow: How important do you think the community aspect of eco:Drive is? The people going against each other and comparing their eco Index aspect. How crucial do you think that was to the campaign’s success?

James: The competitive nature of it was secondary. There were other manufacturers that had eco: Drive like products. They are essentially diagnostic tools that allow you to see how you’re doing, how much fuel you’re burning, and things like that. What we wanted to do was so simple that it took away what I call the “fuck it factor”. It’s the point in time when somebody goes “I can’t be bothered; it’s too complicated.” So we wanted to remove that and still have all this information into this single thing that we called the eco Index. It allowed you to see very quickly how you were doing.

So if you have an eco index of 23, you’re killing the planet. If you have 86-90 you’re Michael Schumacher. And what you can do is that you can set yourself goals over time. So if you had an eco index that sucked, you can say okay, over the next 3 months, I want to get it to 70. It’s a driving style change that you have to go through. It’s not as simple as saying “okay, I am going to drive better”.

Drivers need to understand how cars work. So they can chart their progress through these points to hit their targets. And then you set yourself new targets.

And only then did eco:Ville come into play. If we’re mates and you have it, I can challenge you on it. You can also see the community as a whole and see how well they’re doing. Then you can have my street Vs your street and then my country Vs your country and so forth. You can break it down and move it all into levels like that and it all become very exciting.

It also shows collective responsibility.  As soon as you put it into that context, it becomes a collaborative tool and it’s brilliant to see how many of these people are contributing to better air.

Screen shot 2010 07 27 at 11.36.20 AM  Catching up with the Tomorrow Awards Winners // Fiat eco:Drive

Tomorrow: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt from all the hours you spent on eco:Drive?

James: I’ve got a really heavy left foot! (laughs)

But seriously, I think we’ve learnt that you can create behaviour changing products if you allow communities to help you change their behaviour rather than just releasing something saying “go on, and use it”. If it becomes a collective thing, Fiat and AKQA have a responsibility to come out with a product that you can use, feedback to us, so that we can change it dynamically for the better. That point of collective responsibility over innovation is what made eco:Drive what it is today.




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