Nicor Review Prepares for Deregulation

By Trevor Jensen

CHICAGO–Having gone more than a year without an agency of record, Nicor, parent company of utility Northern Illinois Gas, has been hearing presentations from agencies for its account, the company confirmed last week.

Northern Illinois Gas is headquartered in Naperville, Ill., and provides natural gas service for much of the region outside of Chicago. The company’s last agency of record was D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles in Chicago, which closed its doors in January 1996.

The utility’s account is estimated in the low seven figures but is expected to grow as increased competition results from deregulation of the natural gas industry.

‘The search is in progress, and we expect to have a selection within a couple of weeks,’ said Jane Wiedmeyer, an official with Northern Illinois Gas.

Wiedmeyer declined to say how many agencies are involved, but did say all are based in the Midwest.

Northern Illinois Gas already is being challenged by at least one competitor in the Chicago area market. A retail marketing unit of the MidCon Corp. called mc2 is selling its product to public utilites and corporate users in northern Illinois and the New York metropolitan area. Midcon, a subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum, plans to offer residential service as soon as the states extend deregulation to that market.

Midcon selected Cramer-Krasselt in Chicago as its agency earlier this year following a review. The agency helped develop the mc2 name and logo.

In Chicago and New York, mc2 last month began running television spots created by Cramer-Krasselt. The spots feature a stern-faced man who notes that the company offers businesses the same service and reliability that local utilities offer, but mc2 provides services at a better price.

Cramer-Krasselt also has produced print and direct advertising for the client.

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