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Winners 2023

Best media relations campaign

Launching a UK-first data environmental data technology
Deep Green
Agency: Apella Advisors

Data centres, the core infrastructure that underpins technology, are highly energy intensive. It is estimated that the sector accounts for around three per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, largely because around 60 per cent of the energy consumers by data centres is used to keep them cool.

Meanwhile, the cost of heating public swimming pools more than doubled to £1.2 billion between 2019 to 2022, according to ukactive, which means hundreds may have to close because they cannot afford to heat the water.

Deep Green has created heat recapture data technology that solves both problems. By putting the data centre where the heat is needed, it can repurpose its wasted heat and donate it to a public swimming pool.

Indeed, just one per cent of data centre demand in Deep Green’s units could actually heat more than 1,500 public pools across the UK.

While the technology is proven and scalable, Deep Green faced a major obstacle. Such technology is new to the UK and few people had heard of the business. Agency Apella Advisors was appointed to make the business famous and make the phones ring.

The first step was to create a campaign to publicise the launch of Deep Green’s first installation at Exmouth Leisure Centre in Devon which would heat its six lane, 25 metre pool and a smaller learners’ one.

The media campaign was designed to build Deep Green’s credibility with three audiences: potential sites for installation, buyers of its data centre services, and investors.

But Deep Green’s story is not an easy one to articulate. It is about social good, sustainability and technology innovation but it also requires an understanding of the sector’s problem with waste heat. It has been estimated that a typical large data centre can generate 20 to 50 MW of heat while a data centre campus might generate up to 300 MW, which is enough to power a medium sized city.

Rather than focusing on the technology, Apella opted to lead on the societal context and highlight how public swimming baths were facing an existential threat due to rising gas bills. Exmouth Leisure Centre initially believed the technology would slash its heating bills between 50 to 60 per cent.

Apella identified the BBC as the best outlet for an exclusive because of its credibility and reach. It spent weeks working with technology editor Zoe Kleinman, addressing her questions as she spoke to other experts and competitors.

The story appeared on the BBC website on 14 March 2023; it was that day’s second most popular article, with more than 1.6 million view.

Apella then worked with other broadcast outlets and national and trade media, and stories about Deep Green’s partnership with Exmouth Leisure Centre appeared in 55 countries.

The response for Deep Green was enormous, who claimed their ‘phones almost melted’. The company received thousands of enquiries from other public pools, calls from potential customers and more than 50 firm expressions of interest from investors.

This reaction prompted Deep Green to upgrade the number of operational sites in 2023 from one to 20. As for Exmouth Leisure Centre, it has cut its gas consumption by 62 per cent, saving £20,000 and more than 25 tonnes of CO2 emissions.

The judges were impressed by the campaign, which they described as a ‘hard brief’. They added: ‘It’s such a topical story as it captures the cost-of-living impact for businesses while also ensuring there’s an environmental benefit.’

They said they could imagine the ‘back and forth’ between Apella and Kleinman, as the agency explained the topic. ‘But securing an exclusive is key here and it was useful to see that the complexity of the story could be turned into a consumer story, that pools are costly.’