Utility Lights Up the Holidays

A campaign from Leo Burnett claims that electric utility ComEd is, for many people, an essential part of the holiday season.

The effort is the first work wholly credited to creative directors Josh Denberg and Paul Hirsch, who joined the Chi cago agency in June from Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco.

Print and outdoor ads play up the holiday decorations that adorn many Chicago-area homes. “The bobsledding snowmen at 17331 Osceola Avenue. Brought to you by ComEd,” reads one. “The 6-foot menorah at 2014 Orrington Avenue. Brought to you by Com Ed,” states another.

“The feeling is to try to tell people [ComEd] is part of the community, [saying] ‘We help brighten up the holidays,’ ” said Denberg, copywriter on the campaign.

The addresses used in the ads are actual locations, and the displays cited are real. “It’s almost like a little scavenger hunt,” Denberg said.

The campaign includes a black-and-white TV spot, which takes viewers inside a factory that makes luminary snowmen. As the plastic figures are constructed, workers sing “Winter Wonderland.” Concluding onscreen text proclaims ComEd is the “proud sponsor of big, plastic snowmen everywhere.”

The print and out-of-home executions broke last week in the utility’s Chicago-area markets. Media spending was not disclosed. ComEd spent minimally during the 2002 holiday period and about $1 million to date this year, per CMR.

Though Denberg and Hirsch worked on accounts such as Nike at Goodby, they said producing a campaign for a local utility is no step down. “The client’s been a pleasure; the account team has been smart and fun,” Hirsch said. “We brought them stuff they didn’t expect, and they’ve championed it.”

The creative team, which was instrumental in Burnett’s winning pitch for Polaroid’s $7-10 million Opal account, is working on another ComEd project.

Denberg said the holiday campaign proves that standout work can be done for anyone at any time. “I hope it starts to show that any brand [can do] great work,” he said.