After a review that included agencies from three states, officials of the South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. have chosen a Georgia shop for their $2 million account.
McRae Communications, located in the Atlanta suburb of Fayetteville, Ga., defeated Rawle Murdy Associates of Charleston, S.C., and C.C. Riggs in Columbia, S.C., home to the utility, in the finals of the review. Fifteen-year incumbent Chernoff/Silver, also in Columbia, was eliminated in an earlier round, along with Howard, Merrill & Partners in Raleigh, N.C., and The Jennings Agency in Chapel Hill, N.C.
"We knew that coming from out of state would present its own set of challenges, but found during the oral presentation that they were solutions focused and not geography focused," said McRae president Joe Snowden.
Snowden's team may have overwhelmed the client by pitching four separate campaigns. Proposals ranged froma relationship-branding approach that developed feelings of friendship between the utility and its customers to another that encompassed the client's ancillary products and services in the primary message. Snowden is un-certain which idea sold SCE&G.
The utility wanted an agency that understood its daily operations and how the business could operate in both regulated and deregulated markets, according to Snowden.
Electricity is regulated in South Carolina, but the utility's parent, SCANA, is Georgia's second-largest marketer of natural gas and was recently named the state's "last resort" provider by the Public Service Commission of Atlanta.
SCE&G also markets energy in North Carolina and competes in the retail arena with products such as water heaters and other appliances.
"Beyond providing electric and gas service, there are factors in the marketplace that impact the utility's life. You can't just market the product," said Snowden. "Everything you do to promote the business has to be viewed in the larger context of regulators, investors and potential customers."
Print, television and direct mail will break in the third quarter.