Grey Gets $40 Mil. Power Play

Just as the lights began to dim in California, the state quietly handed Grey’s office here a $40 million campaign aimed at getting residents to cut back on power consumption.

“They called and said, ‘We have an emergency and we need your help,’ ” said John Crosson, president of Grey’s Western division. The California Department of Consumer Affairs, he said, turned to Grey during the power crisis because of the agency’s work on the state’s lottery campaign.

“They looked at the agencies they worked with before and wanted someone who could turn something around quick,” said Crosson. “We had something ready to go within two weeks.”

Thus far, the shop has produced six TV spots and six radio spots with the theme “Flex your power.” They first appeared in February and are scheduled to run through December. The agency is also developing radio, TV and print ads in English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Korean and Spanish as part of a plan aimed at reaching 98 percent of the state’s residents.

According to Crosson, after the campaign broke, power consumption in the state dipped by 8 percent compared to the corresponding period a year earlier.

Although state agencies are normally required to conduct open reviews for new ad work, Gov. Gray Davis issued an executive order Feb. 1 calling for an immediate campaign to alert the public.

“We’re having an energy emergency,” said Joanne McNabb, special consultant for the California Department of Consumer Affairs. “What’s normally a six- to nine-month process clearly would not work.”

She added, “We knew we needed a full-service agency who could get things up and running as quickly as possible, and we wanted the best terms possible.”

McNabb said Grey offered the best price terms for the state’s $20 million lottery effort. “Their markup rate and media buying efficiency were very good in terms of the lottery,” she said.