Dallas, N.E. Shops Hear From E-Utility

Essential.com Holds Preliminary Talks About Its $6 Mil. Account
BOSTON–Add Essential.com to the growing list of e-commerce companies seeking agency assistance.
The startup, a Burlington, Mass.-based reseller of utility and communications services, has hired its first director of marketing and is seeking a shop to launch a branding effort by year’s end.
The client intends to spend $6 million this year, but that figure will likely rise to $35 million in 2000, said Kelly Mahoney, senior vice president of marketing and e-business.
Mahoney, who recently joined Essential.com from the direct marketing unit of Arnold Communications, has held preliminary talks with agencies in Boston, New York and Dallas about handling assignment chores on the account.
PGR Media, Providence, R.I., handles media duties and is expected to continue doing so after a creative shop is hired, she said.
Mahoney told Adweek she is seeking an agency “with an aggressive track record in consumer behavior change and quantitative results.”
“Depth of branding expertise and some e-commerce experience,” along with the ability to create a unified message across many media are essential, she said.
The agency search, conducted by Mahoney without assistance from outside consultants, is currently in its early stages. Agencies may still apply, she said.
The client hopes to finalize a list of contenders next month, with a decision coming by August, she said.
At present, Chili Pepper, a creative boutique, and online marketing shop One-to-One Interactive, both Boston, are working on various assignments for Essential.com. Chili Pepper recently created local newspaper ads using the headline, “Savings without the homework.”
Mahoney said that initial positioning “will evolve over time.”
Customers who sign up on the Essential.com Web site will eventually receive a single, consolidated bill for their utilities, which they can pay via credit or debit card.