Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

Ads Aim to Ease Deregulation Fears in California
LOS ANGELES-The California Public Utilities Commission hopes to ease consumer concerns over deregulation with its first educational ad campaign, themed “Plug in, California!”
Starting Jan. 1, California’s investor-owned utilities will become deregulated, allowing consumers to choose their electricity provider. The CPUC is spending more than $89 million to educate consumers about the changes, with a $73.5 million, 10-month advertising campaign that includes general market, Hispanic, African American and Asian/Pacific Islander executions.
The campaign will primarily target residential consumers and small businesses who have questions about the industry restructuring. The tagline for the entire campaign is, “Knowledge is power.”
Created by the Los Angeles office of DDB Needham, the general market campaign broke last week on network TV statewide. In the first 30-second spot, “Speed,” a highway patrolman waits behind a billboard, watching for speeders on the highway. But he soon gets lost in his thoughts, his inner voice asking, “So, I’m going to have choices now?” In another execution, the patrolman asks, “Who do I call if my power goes out?”
Each spot ends with the toll-free number for the Electric Education Call Center, where consumers can get more information.
Newspaper ads are running in the Los Angeles Times and other California newspapers, and outdoor ads will break in January.
Consumers will wonder how rates will change, how to choose a carrier, how service and safety will be affected and what their rights are, said Candy Deemer, DDB co-managing director, chief operating officer. “Our goal is to provide consumers a training manual to help them through the restructuring,” she said.
“The ads will become more and more detailed as the campaign goes on and awareness [of the restructuring] increases,” said Greg Conlan, CPUC president.
The Hispanic campaign, created by Anita Santiago Advertising in Santa Monica, Calif., features a 30-second TV spot, “Chispita” (which translates to “Sparky”), in which a terrier tells viewers about the deregulation.
The Asian/Pacific Islander executions, from Imada Wong Communications Group in Los Angeles, include several variations of a 15-second “Spokesperson” spot. While telling viewers about deregulation, a man is interrupted by a phone call from his wife, who encourages him to remind the audience about the Call Center’s 800 number.
The African American TV work, currently being produced by Carol H. Williams Advertising in Oakland, Calif., will feature a character called “Electric Man.”
The campaign’s ethnic executions will include outdoor, radio and print. The general market campaign’s spokesperson is L.A. radio talk show host Michael Jackson.