Striking Community Chord Southern California Gas Co. Stresses Service Angle

By Teresa Buyikian

LOS ANGELES–Anticipating industry competition, the Southern California Gas Co. has focused its new ad campaign on local community achievements in addition to the reliability of its own services.

The campaign, created by Lois/EJL in Los Angeles, aims to build goodwill by positioning the utility company as one customers can trust and should remain faithful to.

‘There will probably be competition (with other gas companies) by the year 2000,’ said Southern California Gas Co. director of advertising and communications Jane King. ‘We feel our customers are important, so we need to build and strengthen our relationships with them.’

Three 30-second TV spots highlight Southern Californians who have made changes in their communities. One commercial shows activist Milli Trevino-Sauceda’s work with Hispanic women farmworkers to end domestic abuse and unhealthful working conditions.

Another commercial highlights Ketchum/Downtown YMCA executive director Robert Wilkins, who evicted gangs from a building that he then converted to a Los Angeles family center by challenging them to a basketball game and winning.

The spots end with a voiceover, saying, ‘One person, just doing their job’ and ‘A message of thanks from The Gas Company.’

The goal of the spots is ‘to reinforce one person doing their job, like the gas company has been doing its job,’ explained Lois/EJL vice president and account supervisor Jim Devine. ‘We wanted to point out the good in the community.’

Three 10-second TV ads are image-building spots, featuring an off-camera gas company customer, the ‘Ardent Consumer.’

One spot shows a closeup of a gas stove as a hand reaches for the knob, turning the gas repeatedly up and down. The accompanying voiceover says, ‘They love me. . . . They love me not. . . . They love me. . . . They love me not,’ referring to the gas company.

In another spot, the ‘Ardent Consumer’ questions, ‘Do they ever slack off at 4 a.m.?’ as his hand turns on the burner. ‘Amazing,’ he responds, answering his own question while the flames rise from the burner.

‘The image spots project service, safety, and dependability,’ said Lois/EJL president and chief executive officer Dennis Coe.

The campaign, which broke last week, is only airing on NBC, since the network gave Lois/EJL a reduced rate as a result of the community service content of the ads. Radio ads will support the TV work. The TV and radio spots will air for the rest of 1997.

Campaign billings are estimated at $2-3 million, according to industry estimates.

Lois/EJL has handled the Southern California Gas Co. account since 1989. The spots were created under the direction of creative director Rick Colby, who left two weeks ago to join Rogge Effler & Partners.

Copyright ASM Communications, Inc. (1997) ALL RIGHTS RESERVED