Energy Department Will Solicit Agencies

CC and D Will Defend Account That Has Ignited Controversy
BOSTON–The Massachusetts Department of Energy said it will “examine” qualified agencies to handle its advertising later this year, although there is no plan to advertise this fall.
The incumbent, CC and D Communications in Boston, will re-submit a bid for the business, according to agency president Peter Kostopoulos. The shop has crafted two TV campaigns to explain energy deregulation to consumers. The first effort was criticized by a consumer advocacy group as “reckless and misguided” because the spots struck some viewers as joking about wasting electricity.
“I strongly disagree that we encourage people to waste electricity,” said Kim Hinden McDonald, an official with the Dept. of Consumer Affairs, which oversees the energy department. “The most important goal was to get the 800 number out so consumers could call with questions.”
A second round of CC and D spots, which aired in May and June, urged consumers to call a toll-free hotline number for information. Calls to the hotline increased significantly when the ads ran, and “demand for the consumer guide was at an all-time high,” McDonald said. The state has spent $750,000 of its $2 million budget on paid media. The campaign’s goal, said McDonald, was to inform consumers about the effects of deregulation: “[CC and D] mastered what we were after, which can be a dry subject.”
One spot in the recent campaign, titled “Fireflies,” showed lights gradually forming a light bulb. Now that the energy industry is open to competition, the voiceover explains, consumers can select a provider based on several options, including the company’s impact on the environment. The voiceover ends, “Which, if you ask us, isn’t such a bad idea.