Putting a Latino Face on Reliant

Lopez Negrete Communications is introducing “Beto,” a friendly, helpful character as the face of Reliant Energy for the Latino consumer.

The Houston shop’s first work for the utility—three 30-second television spots—will run in Texas markets through November.

The ads, part of a print, radio and broadcast/cable TV outreach, are designed to both retain and attract customers to Houston-based Reliant as deregulation opens up Texas to competition.

Annual billings on the account are expected to exceed $1 million, according to sources.

“Reliant was looking for an agency that understands the Hispanic consumer,” said agency chief executive officer Alex Lopez Negrete. “We come from countries where utilities are usually state owned, with no choice. It’s very empowering for a Latino to say, ‘Wow, we have a choice.’ “

At the same time, the agency’s research re-vealed that many energy customers were worried about making the “right choice.”

“Uncertainty and empowerment were both equal players,” said Negrete.

Enter Beto, played by Mexican actor Luis Alcaraz. Beto pops up in family kitchens, at basketball games, next to a woman in a laundromat, on a bike beside a policeman, giving tips on saving energy, reassuring the uncertain and making sure that Reliant customers do not switch to competitors like TXU, Green Mountain and Nu-Power. “What are you going to do?” Beto asks a group of Reliant loyalists. “Nada!” they shout.

The utility’s toughest sell will be Dallas, a market dominated by TXU. In that arena The Richards Group, Reliant’s general-market agency, has created “Bob” (Beto’s Anglo counterpart) to sell consumers on the utility.

“It was very important that Reliant had the same brand essence in both the Hispanic and general market,” said Negrete. “We’re launching this campaign at a time when energy bills are on the rise. It’s a good moment to put a human face on the company.”