The "Power Behind the Panel" is getting more in front. Last week, Trina Solar invited me and about 100 other guests to a private Beverly Hills home where Mark Kingsley, Trina’s Chief Commercial Officer (pictured below), and Grey’s Anatomy star Patrick Dempsey unveiled “15 Minutes,” a new solar PR and advocacy campaign.
The invited guests included solar professionals and solar advocates, as well as Los Angeles County school officials and representatives from Dempsey’s charities, some of which have already received solar donations through the Trina-Dempsey partnership. (See video below.)
“15 Minutes” refers to the fact that 15 minutes of sunlight falling on the earth is the equivalent of the power used by the entire planet in a year. Of course, Trina’s intent isn’t just to harness more solar power, but also Dempsey’s star power to generate increased brand awareness in the residential sector, as well as for its overall corporate image.
I like these brand ambassador partnerships. Aside from their genuine interest in helping these charities, the arrangement is generally a win-win marketing partnership for both the star — in this case Dempsey, his Dempsey Racing team, and his charities — as well as for the solar company — in this case Trina. It remains to be seen how Trina and Dempsey will work together beyond their charity and solar advocacy work, but my hope is that they will reach beyond sponsorship and PR promotion.
Don’t get me wrong. Any celebrity who goes solar or endorses solar is terrific for the entire solar industry. However, celebrities going solar also can enforce the myth that solar is too expensive for most Americans in 2012, and as solar pros know, that's not the case.
In fact, a recent solar market survey shows that 66 percent of California home solar installations in 2009, 2010, and part of 2011 have been in zip codes with median annual household incomes of less than $85,000 per year. In addition, the report — partially sponsored by SunRun — also shows that 25 percent of its customers earn less than $50,000 per year, which is squarely in the middle class.
Want another interesting stat? A 2008 study shows that women make the final purchase decision in the home, not guys. So, having "McDreamy" as a solar spokesperson couldn't hurt inspiring more female decision makers to have more...passion...for solar.
In all seriousness, it would be great if fictional characters in television and film reflected the above stats, but that requires the writers and producers of television shows to be as educated and excited about solar as Dempsey and Trina.
Patrick Dempsey photos above courtesy of Beckerman photography.
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