Volkswagen Canada Powers Down For Earth Day

//  04.22.22


Volkswagen is cutting their digital carbon footprint for #DayToZero

Websites play a crucial role in the automotive purchase journey, but our combined online activity—from web visits, to search activity, to video streaming—is also responsible for about 4% of all global CO2 emissions.

As part of its “Be the Change” corporate social responsibility initiative, Volkswagen Canada is temporarily powering down its full website this Earth Day to raise awareness of sustainability efforts worldwide.

Visitors to will be greeted by a landing page featuring a specially coded image of the upcoming all-electric ID.Buzz, which arrives in Canada in 2024, rendered using only ASCII text characters. The “Day to Zero” initiative was developed by Volkswagen Canada’s advertising agency, Type1.

“As part of our Be The Change platform, we have goals to be a fully carbon-neutral company by 2050, and on our journey to get there, we know that every action counts,” said Lynne Piette, Head of Marketing at Volkswagen Canada. “So, this Earth Day we’re powering down our entire site to raise awareness about the Internet’s digital carbon footprint, while also reducing ours—and planting a tree on Canadian soil for every visit on the day to maximize our offsets.”

The carbon-efficient page will generate up to 93% less CO2 emissions than a standard website. To further demonstrate its commitment to building a more sustainable planet, Volkswagen Canada is also partnering with One Tree Planted—a global organization focused on global reforestation—to plant one tree in Canada for every visitor to its site.

The “Day to Zero” campaign is a follow-up to last year’s highly successful Earth Day initiative “The Carbon Neutral Net,” in which Volkswagen replaced text and images on a section of its sites with ASCII text characters. The result was a browsing experience cleaner than 99% of the over two million websites measured by digital carbon emissions calculator Website Carbon.

Globally, Volkswagen has pledged to become a carbon-neutral company by 2050. It plans to achieve several significant milestones along the way, including ramping up its EV production to 1 million vehicles per year by 2025; having 70 EV models available by 2030; and having every vehicle produced be fully-electric by 2040.

“Last year, we worked with Volkswagen to turn their website into a more sustainable browsing experience by turning every image into live ASCII text,” said Allen Kwong, Group Creative Director, TAXI/TYPE1. “This year, we’re taking an even bolder step: turning Volkswagen’s website off for 24 hours to further educate Canadians about digital carbon footprints.”

The “Day to Zero” initiative is being supported by a wide-ranging social media campaign. The Facebook and Instagram carousels show images of the ASCII website and outline the automaker’s commitment to a sustainable future. A CRM component featuring an email designed to educate consumers about the importance of reducing their own digital carbon footprint will also direct traffic to the sustainable #DayToZero site in support of the company’s goal of planting 100,000 trees.

Social_VW_TreePlanting_Ascii Image

Social_VW_ID.Buzz_Ascii Image


Title: #DayToZero

Client: Volkswagen Canada
Marketing Director: Lynne Piette

Agency: TYPE1/TAXI
Group Creative Director: Allen Kwong
Art Director: Oliver Brooks
Copywriter: Mike Richardson
Account Supervisor: Marteen Sevier
Account Director: Katherine Tomlinson
Project Manager: Oliver Glover