Piedmont Natural Gas “Invisible”

See if this strikes you as true: “When your product is invisible, the people behind it are even more important.” That’s the assertion made in this commercial (via Luquire George Andrews of Charlotte, N.C.) for Piedmont Natural Gas. The spot illustrates that principal by showing a bustling restaurant where no food is visible on the plates, a farmer’s market where no produce is visible in the woven baskets, a car show with no visible vehicles…. The unusual (and stylish) visuals will hold one’s attention. Thus, viewers will be attentive to the tacit claim that, since Piedmont’s product is invisible, its people must be working especially hard to serve their customers. But aren’t the people important in any service business, whether what’s being sold is visible or not? Be that as it may, the fact that Piedmont has provided a visually pleasing 30 seconds will win some gratitude from viewers and give the company an aura of quality. Moreover, the spot hasn’t made a ridiculous claim that Piedmont’s staffers are our pals, or even that they’re nicer than the people at other natural-gas companies. It has contented itself with giving us a reason – at least superficially plausible, whether finally true or not — for thinking the company is serious about customer service. That’s quite enough to elevate it above the category’s usual standards. –Mark Dolliver