UtiliCorp Selects DDB

DDB Needham Dallas prevailed after a three-month review to land ad duties for UtiliCorp United, a natural gas and electric utility.
The Kansas City, Mo.-based client initiated the review in May, sending questionnaires to more than 20 agencies. The review was narrowed to DDB and two other undisclosed finalists in June.
DDB executives estimated first-year spending for the client to be in the $5-10 million range. The company spent $2.6 million on measured media in 1996, according to Competitive Media Reporting.
UtiliCorp’s account was previously split among eight shops, including Muller + Co. in Kansas City, which handled corporate advertising. UtiliCorp executives have declined to name the other agencies on its roster.
In a statement, DDB president Jake Schroepfer said his agency’s charge is to “leverage a strong brand identity” for UtiliCorp and “increase market share in a deregulated environment.”
DDB has been asked to develop a campaign for launch this fall that will include television, print, radio and direct mail. The effort will target residential, commercial and industrial customers.
UtiliCorp currently serves 1.7 million electric and gas customers in eight states and in parts of Canada and Australia.
Deregulation in the $200 billion power industry has utilities across the country evaluating their advertising strategies. In June, Peoples Energy Corp. of Chicago said it was planning a review of its ad account. In the past month, Interstate Energy Corp. in Madison, Wis., and Ohio Edison Co. in Akron, Ohio, have also begun contacting agencies about their marketing initiatives.