UTS Library

ibuyeco - Australia's first 100% carbon neutral car insurance


Australian Insurance Holdings

PR Company: 

The Phillips Group

Award Category: 

Award Type: 

Call Number: 

2008 C9 - 8



Executive Summary: 

Introducing the first practical way for Australian drivers to act on climate change, ibuyeco – Australia’s first 100% carbon neutral car insurer – launched itself nationally in October 2007.

Drawing on the success of its sister company in the United Kingdom, ibuyeco’s aim, through a comprehensive education campaign, was to raise awareness about the benefits of offsetting vehicle emissions and still offer competitive insurance premiums.

In a similar vein to ibuyeco’s Australian-first product offering, Phillips Group was to develop and implement a communications strategy that could be considered an Australian-first in terms of adherence to environmental best practice.

The challenge was to educate a broad consumer market, which had limited knowledge about carbon emissions, plus create national exposure for ibuyeco without print or broadcast advertising support and in adherence to ibuyeco’s limited launch budget of $35,000. The additional challenge was to reach media sceptical about companies ‘green-washing’ their products to increase their profit margins.

Phillips Group developed a credible, media-based campaign which aimed to use minimal supporting printed collateral and merchandise. Where collateral and merchandise were produced only FSC certified environmentally friendly materials were used and their production was 100% carbon offset.

This campaign employed endorsement, responsible branding, consumer research and innovative marketing initiatives to gain media acceptance of the ibuyeco ‘green’ product. As a result the launch received national and international coverage in major print, broadcast and online media outlets – successfully meeting and/or exceeding its goals and objectives.

Situation Analysis: 

Australian Insurance Holdings Pty Ltd (AIH) - part of the global Budget Group of companies - based the ibuyeco product on the premise that consumers can receive competitive car insurance while reducing the impact their cars have on the planet.

Ibuyeco was the first practical way for the Australian public to insure their car whilst being proactive about their car’s carbon emissions.

A survey commissioned by ibuyeco, ibuyeco Gauge, researched the thoughts and behaviours of 597 recipients to determine awareness of and the level of importance Australians place on carbon emissions.

Gauge results supported ibuyeco’s brand positioning, with:

  • 73% of consumers believing it was equally the responsibility of government, industry and individuals to drive down CO²
  • 82% of consumers not understanding that the main cause of their household carbon emissions was private vehicle use.

In the lead up to ibuyeco’s October launch in Sydney, much media attention was focused on the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) efforts to publicly identify and launch legal proceedings against companies seen to be hopping on the “environmental gravy train” – green washing their products and services in an effort to mislead consumers.

ibuyeco went to great lengths to find one of the leading carbon offsetting businesses in Australia, which it perceived was Greening Australia – a not-for-profit organization that could guarantee the following criteria:

  • All carbon offsetting activity met the Australian Government Greenhouse Friendly standard, the criteria for the Kyoto Protocol, independently audited and guaranteed for 100 years
  • All tree planting used native flora species
  • Land regeneration activities took place in Australia.


From the project’s outset and throughout, research was conducted to inform the communication plan and ensure the ongoing relevance and success of promotion activities.

Field research Market Communication Research (MCR) was commissioned to develop a comprehensive survey of 597 Australian residents, called the ibuyeco Gauge. The ibuyeco Gauge was designed to:

  • A. Determine the level of importance Australians place on the issue of carbon emissions 
  • B. Discover who, if anyone, Australians believe should be responsible for reducing carbon emissions
  • C. Assess the public’s level of support for the Government’s current role in reducing carbon emission reduction and determine if there is an expectation for further action
  • D. Establish what Australians are doing at an individual level, if anything, to reduce carbon emissions
  • E. Investigate public perceptions of factors creating the most carbon emissions.

Questions were as follows:

  1. How important is it for Australia to reduce CO² emissions?
  2. Who do you think should be responsible for driving down carbon emissions?
  3. Is the Government doing enough to reduce CO² emissions?
  4. What are you doing to reduce CO² emissions?
  5. What creates the most CO² emissions?

Such quantitative statistical information is a cost effective and innovative means of maximising media interest in ibuyeco’s 100% carbon neutral key message. It also acts, from the media’s perspective, as a measurement of consumer willingness to act on climate change – a politically and socially sensitive issue in Australia.

  • Desk top research included comprehensive stakeholder analysis, statistical research from environmental associations and, through the Australian Bureau of Statistics, broad environmental competitor analysis
  • Media analysis was conducted regularly to gauge community perceptions and analyse the external environment including competitors.

Target Policies: 


Audience mindset Key considerations


  • 35 to 59 year olds
  • Social grade A/B
  • Slight female bias
  • Still require good deal pricewise
  • Safe and responsible drivers
  • Want to promote brand and key messages to consumers 
  • What a successful launch and positive coverage
  • Want to offer consumers a better insurance option.
  • Price
  • Ease of calculating personal carbonemissions
  • Ease of offsetting carbon emissions
  • Ease of policy transfer
  • Can I (consumer) assuage my guilt?
  • Competitors – financial institutions and insurers
  • Want to monitor competitors and remain competitive in dynamic market.
  • Are ibuyeco’s 100% carbon neutral claims supported by actual proof/evidence?
  • Australian business
  • Keen to assuage their Western guilt
  • Want to be seen as environmentally astute.
  • ibuyeco is an Australian leader in consumer-based environmental solutions.


  • Category 1 – metro EGN print, TV, radio, eco-news
  • Category 2 – regional outlets
  • Want a story of fact/interest
  • Want to report on something significant to the reader.
  • Is there credibility in ibuyeco’s 100% carbon neutral claim?

1 based on data from Roy Morgan Research

Communication Strategy: 

The following strategic approach was developed from the research and stakeholder analysis.

Strategic approach

Market Position Australia’s first 100% carbon neutral car insurer


Internal/External Stakeholder


  • Face-to-face briefings/meetings
  • Management ecoambassadors
  • Audit business to ensure 100% carbon neutral status
  • Paperless policies – online and electronically stored. No paper!


  • Media – Trade & consumer
  • Other financial Institutions
  • Primary consumer target – 35 to 59 age, A/B demographic, slight female bias.
  • Consumer brand development
  • Marketing strategies
  • Media strategy & relations
  • Promotions / publicity
  • Product message positioning
  • Event management
  • Online communication
  • Eco-collateral development – meeting Forestry Stewardship Association (FSA) guidelines
  • Visual positioning (ibuyeco cube).
  • Alignment with independent Greening Australia
  • Set benchmark as industry leader in corporate environmental sustainability
  • Consumer/industry education
  • UK counterpart success
  • ibuyeco Gauge research findings


Planning was conducted in three phases to maximise strategic effectiveness in internal and external stakeholder engagement, branding / marketing, and endorsement / profiling.

Stage: Stage 1 Pre-launch Planning
Timing: Aug – Sept 27

Stage: Stage 2 Launch Day Action Plan
Timing: Sept 28 – Oct 3

Stage: Stage 3 Post-launch Media Relations
Timing: Oct 4 – Oct 31

The following key messages were derived from Phillips Group’s quantitative and qualitative research to ensure resonance with target stakeholders:

  • “ibuyeco – Australia’s first 100% carbon neutral insurance.”
  • “ibuyeco is more than great value car insurance & quality carbon offsetting.”
  • “ibuyeco calculates that the average Australian driver produces 3.4 tonnes of carbon each year:”
  • “82% of Australians are unaware of which personal activity causes the most carbon emissions, which comes from private vehicle use.”
  • “ibuyeco uses Greening Australia to action its carbon offsetting activities.”


The campaign effectively positioned ibuyeco favourably within the Australian business market and challenged the mindset of typically environmentally sceptical consumers.

The implementation was conducted over three stages – pre-launch planning, launch day action plan and post-launch media relations. Activities and results for each stage are outlined below and refer to Appendix A for further details.

The implementation was refined in Stage 3 due to external factors surrounding the 3rd October launch date. These included:

  • Impending federal government election announcement
  • Climate Change Summit
  • Two competing environmental awareness surveys released in 24-hour period surrounding ibuyeco’s official launch – CSIRO and 2007 Australian of the Year and world-renowned environmentalist Dr Tim Flannery.

These developments saturated media interest – creating an overload of information surrounding environmental issues. Phillips Group reacted quickly – changing tack to include a release focused on specific consumer facts from the ibuyeco Gauge. This cut through the noise to reach target audiences and produce a successful result.

Stage 1: Pre-launch planning, creative concepts, key message (August – September 2007)


  • Launch concept and key
Physical representation of carbon emissions – ibuyeco’s
inflatable cube representing one tonne of carbon dioxide
  • Legitimate data source
ibuyeco Gauge survey of 597 Australian drivers
  • Credibility
Partnership with Greening Australia
  • Interactive website
Website accurately calculates carbon
  • Launch in nationally
    recognised location
Arranged launch of ibuyeco in Wynyard Park, Sydney CBD

 Stage 2: Launch Day Action Plan (September 28 – October 3, 2007)


  • Separate key media targets into two categories (primary and secondary)
Targeted journalists identified as most likely to pick up ibuyeco’s story
  • Drip feed media
Media release distributed/followed up nationally from 28 September to 2 October
  • Launch eve radio interviews with ibuyeco CEO and Greening Australia President
20 radio interviews (some syndicated) pre-recorded on the afternoon of October 2 for October 3 broadcasting
  • Media release
Media release distributed to over 300 outlets on October 3
  • Ibuyeco cube in prominent Sydney CBD
    location, native seedlings with ibuyeco messaging
Giant inflatable cube exposed to thousands of morning commuters. 1500 native seedlings handed out

Stage 3: Post launch media relations (October 4 – October 31)


  • Tactical change due to market/consumer
    saturation on environmental issues
  • Consumer release based on an ‘Australianfirst’ key message, rather than quantitative research findings from ibuyeco Gauge
Exclusive with Australian Associated Press (AAP). Editorial placed on wire and then more than 80 print/online news outlets
  • Consumer based release distributed to key print media
Interviews with ibuyeco CEO and Associate Director in week following release


Keeping to the strategy but being flexible with the communications activities as external circumstances changed resulted in an effective and engaging campaign which successfully met its objectives.

Campaign achievement

  • Successful pre-launch day media coverage in radio broadcast news programs nationally
  • 20 direct radio interviews - some syndicated nationally
    (Appendix A – News Clippings)
  • Successful launch day attendance at Sydney’s Wynyard Park venue
  • Ibuyeco representatives handing out more than 1,500 native seedlings at the venue in less than 1.5 hours (Appendix A – Launch Day images and Collateral)
  • Ibuyeco “cube” educated thousands of Sydney commuters about what one tonne of carbon represents
  • Level and frequency of overall coverage achieved during the campaign period
  • More than 80 media impressions achieved in the week surrounding launch day (Appendix A – News Clippings)
  • Positive key messages
  • Almost 100% of media coverage was either balanced or positive in nature (Appendix A – News Clippings)
  • Media publications
  • Balanced achieved in obtaining print, radio and online coverage in major media nationally and in South East Asia
  • Balanced reporting
  • Almost 100% of media coverage was either balanced or positive in nature (Appendix A – News Clippings)
  • Evolution of coverage
  • Media interest progressed from ibuyeco Gauge Survey results to ‘Australian first’ consumer product offering
  • Third party endorsement by Greening Australia
  • Almost one-quarter of media coverage mentioned Greening Australia as ibuyeco’s carbon offset partner
  • Recognition as an Australian first
  • More than 90% of media clippings mentioned ibuyeco as an Australian first


Evaluation of the project included a review of media coverage, campaign assessment and stakeholder feedback. This demonstrated the objectives were met or exceeded and the campaign achieved its goal of successfully launching ibuyeco as Australia’s first 100% carbon neutral car insurance nationally.


Measure Measurable Criteria

1. Achieve coverage in every Australian state’s major metropolitan print and broadcast media


Media coverage
  • 80 media impressions covering print/radio/online
  • 99% of press coverage was balanced or positive
  • 97% of articles contained at least one key message
  • National and international coverage achieved

2. Align with a reputable environmental organisation to enhance brand credibility, ensuring endorsement referred to in at least 20% of media coverage


Stakeholder feedback and media coverage
  • Partnership successfully negotiated with Greening
  • Greening Australia’s public endorsement of ibuyeco
  • 24% of media coverage directly associated with
    Greening Australia.

3. Position ibuyeco’s corporate social responsibility status in at least 80% of editorial


Media coverage
  • Over 90% of articles state ibuyeco as Australia’s first carbon neutral insurer