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With Copacino's Help, PSE Empowers Its Customers

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Showing its customers how to monitor and control their energy consumption is the key goal of Puget Sound Energy's new ad campaign, created by Copacino.

Newspaper, radio and direct mail ads from the Seattle shop break this month. They coincide with the introduction of the client's Personal Energy Management program, which includes services that allow customers to track electrical consumption online and take advantage of cheaper rates for off-peak power usage.

The ads take a lighthearted approach to energy woes. One newspaper ad, for instance, features an illustration of a woman bundled up in a puffy bathrobe made of ceiling insulation. Another illustrated ad imagines the inner workings of a photocopier: five monks busily transcribing what they see. The tagline is "There's a smarter way to save energy," and the ads direct consumers to PSE's Web site.

"We're not making light of the situation by any means," said Lindsay Herman, account executive at Copacino. At the same time, Herman said the ads are designed to "speak to consumers as individuals with senses of humor."

The print ads will run in 10 newspapers throughout Washington state, where PSE serves 1.2 million consumers. The radio spots, using the same quirky bathrobe and monk scenarios, will air on 14 stations statewide. PSE customers will also receive information about the program with their monthly bill.

"We are trying to empower customers to better manage energy and make informed choices about how and when they consume that energy," said Grant Ringel, director of corporate communications for PSE. "The utilities industry has not done a good job of making cost and pricing information available to customers on a day-to-day basis in the past."

Through the Personal Energy Management initiative, Ringel said, consumers can go online and compare the cost of running a dishwasher at different times, for example.

PSE, based in Bellevue, Wash., handed its account to the 28-person shop in October. This is Copacino's second effort for the client.

PSE spent just $258,000 on advertising in 2000, according to CMR.