Portland Utility Looks to Future With JohnsonSheen

The energy crunch has spawned many conservation campaigns, but Portland, Ore., is getting more than the usual turn-off-the-lights message.

To position Portland General Electric as a forward-thinking utility, local agency JohnsonSheen Advertising has unveiled two TV ads focusing on newer initiatives for the client. The spots introduce the tagline “Let the future begin.”

One 30-second ad focuses on turbine-generated “clean wind power.” It shows a whirligig twisting in the wind as a voiceover says, “The wind is out there. Whispering past our faces. As if to say: ‘I can breathe life into anything.’ ” Clean wind power, the ad suggests, is “just one more way Portland General Electric is preparing for tomorrow, today.”

Another spot features girls with flashlights playing in a dark backyard. A voiceover tells viewers that the flashlights are wind-up, not powered by batteries. It directs viewers to PGE’s online eco-store for earth- and energy-friendly products.

“Our mantra is: Think innovation, but feel peace of mind,” said JohnsonSheen creative director Mike Sheen. “Portland General Electric has 100 years of trust built up supplying electricity.”

To promote peace of mind, the Portland utility is continuing its annual focus on safety with a TV spot addressing the dangers of touching fallen power lines.

The campaign also includes three print ads and five radio spots. Overall, the campaign is the client’s most extensive in five years; spending to date is estimated at $1.5 million.

Sheen estimated that it’s been five years since PGE has rolled out broadcast ads. “One big thing that has happened is they’ve moved from a utility and products-based com pany to a marketing company with innovative products and solutions,” he said. “First and foremost, they provide power and electricity. But they also provide other things.”

JohnsonSheen won the account roughly a year ago. It had been in-house for the previous four years.

Three additional TV spots are in the works and will begin breaking this summer.

TV ads are airing locally during morning programs, talk shows and in prime time, Sheen said. Print is running mainly in local newspapers.