The Jacksonville Electric Authority has tapped Wickersham Hunt Schwantner for an integrated marketing communications program.
Owned by Arnold Communications in Boston, Wickersham Hunt will work with the Jacksonville, Fla., utility company on all facets of its business-to-business and consumer communications, including direct marketing and media advertising, said agency chairman Lysle Wickersham.
Budget levels have not been set, but annual billings are expected to be in excess of $5 million.
The Boston shop was awarded the business after a review of undisclosed contenders. "We were recommended [for participation in the competition] by some consultants in the [utility] category who knew of our work" for various clients in other fields, Wickersham said. There was no incumbent.
Having no industry experience, Wickersham Hunt was awarded the assignment based largely on its track record for creating campaigns that integrate various marketing disciplines, Wickersham said. "They wanted it all . . . soup to nuts. They didn't want to go to many" different vendors for selected marketing services.
An immediate goal will be to prepare Jacksonville Electric for a competitive environment. Deregulation of the utility industry is apace across the country and is expected to begin in Florida in the next three years.
It is possible that Jacksonville Electric will team with another company, perhaps a natural gas or cable systems provider, as deregulation progresses, Wickersham said. If that happens, the agency will help the client find suitable partners and work to create a brand identity for such a union, Wickersham said. The shop will begin brand development, although no advertising is expected for several months, he added.
With annual revenues near $1 billion, Jacksonville Electric is one of the nation's largest municipal utility providers. The company currently generates electricity and manages water and wastewater operations for Greater Jacksonville.