PG&E Ads Focus on Its Employees

Amid Deregulation, McCann Gives California Utility a Friendly Face
SAN FRANCISCO–McCann-Erickson reveals the human side of Pacific Gas & Electric Co. in a new campaign for the utility that broke throughout Northern California and several midstate markets last week.
PG&E is backing the TV, radio and print effort with an estimated $5-10 million in ad spending. The new tagline is, “We deliver energy.”
“The campaign stresses that PG&E is about pipes and cables and [its workers],” said Dave Tutin, executive vice president and creative director of McCann’s San Francisco office.
PG&E also wants to remind Californians of “the thousands of employees that maintain [the energy industry’s] infrastructure” as it undergoes deregulation, Tutin added. “Many people still don’t understand that when they decide not to have PG&E supply their power, it is still PG&E that delivers it to their home,” he said.
One 60-second and four 30-second TV spots feature aerial shots, all taken in one week, of various types of California terrain. The ads, directed by Bill Tillman of Industrial Light
& Magic in San Rafael, Calif., show how big a task it is to fix and maintain electrical equipment across the state.
The 60-second spot opens with sweeping shots of the coast, then cuts to show PG&E employees climbing utility poles and electrical towers. The voiceover says: “It takes 21,000 men and women doing all of this, just so you can do this.” A hand is then shown turning on a light switch.
Print work also focuses on PG&E employees’ around-the-clock efforts. One ad, showing a serious-looking PG&E technician, reads: “Working almost 200,000 hours … to see that you always have the energy you need, delivered when you need it.”
The campaign, which continues McCann’s effort from last fall, will run through the rest of 1998, and probably into 1999, Tutin said. The agency has handled PG&E’s account for over five years.