NewPower Is Put to the Test

GSD&M has introduced a television advertising campaign for NewPower.

The alternative provider of electricity plans to introduce its service in 23 states where energy deregulation has occurred or is pending.

Last month two television commercials broke in the test markets of Philadelphia and northern New Jersey, where NewPower has been marketing itself since late summer. In one 30-second spot, a woman follows her teenage son around the house, flipping off lights and closing doors in an effort to conserve electricity. In the other ad, a younger brother playfully switches on the front porch light to prevent his big sister from being kissed.

The Austin, Texas-based agency also created the company’s logo and “Power to run your life” tagline.

The annualized budget for the campaign is estimated at $30-40 million, according to industry insiders. That dollar range dwarfs the $5 million media spend by same-category firm Utility.com, a service which launched this spring. Total above-the-line ex-penditures for the energy sector last year were $138.5 million, per Competitive Media Reporting.

NewPower, which will allow customers to sign up and monitor their accounts via the Internet, has formed a strategic alliance with America Online. The online service will make NewPower the sole provider of energy across three brands: AOL, CompuServe and Digital Cities.

“We also have alliance marketing, so in some cases people may get airline miles or pizza for signing up with our company,” said NewPower representative Gael Doar. The branding campaign for the Greenwich, Conn.-based firm also involves radio, billboards and direct mail.

GSD&M was selected as agency in the absence of a review, according to company officials. Agency spokesperson Eric Webber said GSD&M’s past experience with clients such as SBC Communications helped win the account.

“It’s similar to phone company deregulation,” Webber said. “All of a sudden consumers have really great choices, whereas now they have the choice of getting [energy] from a sole provider or living by candlelight. We definitely know the landscape of dealing with industries that were once highly regulated and are now open to competition and drew on some of our experience to help position them.”