Utilities Merger To Benefit EPB, Richardson

By Nora FitzGerald

WASHINGTON, D.C.–There has been a velvet revolution of sorts regarding the advertising of Pepco and Baltimore Gas & Electric as the two utilities prepare to merge.

BG&E agency Richardson Myers & Donofrio of Baltimore has been awarded the branding assignment of the new utility, which will be called Constellation Energy Corp. Principal Chuck Donofrio said he could not provide any details yet except to say the agency is working on the rebranding of the name and an image campaign.

A BG&E representative said that the ‘Day One’ campaign would be based on work that the company already won an Ogilvy award for using the utility’s employees.

Pepco agency Earle Palmer Brown here will also do new product assignments and support if the merger goes through. ‘Everyone’s (RM&D and EPB) collaborating for Day One, a date which has not yet been determined,’ said Kathleen Nolan, a BG&E representative.

Ad spending should also increase dramatically, according to sources. Pepco’s budget has been hovering at or slightly above $1 million. BG&E was close to $3 million last year with new TV work, according to Donofrio.

The merger between the Baltimore and D.C.-based power companies hit a regulatory snag in recent weeks, but sources close to the process were optimistic late last week that it would be resolved.

The merger is part of a national phenomenon prompted by the impending deregulation of the marketplace. ‘You could call it upheaval and be exactly accurate,’ said John Castagna, representative for EEI, a trade association for utilities. ‘We’re focused on assisting the process in a well-considered way. The restructuring is exceptionally complex.’

‘What you’re seeing is a scramble of consolidation even before the real fight takes place,’ said Michael Rowland, general manager of EPB. ‘From a marketing perspective, the transition from an incumbent monopoly to competition brings with it an urgent need to advertise.’

Copyright ASM Communications, Inc. (1997) ALL RIGHTS RESERVED