Pepco Holdings, Inc.
Project date: 2011-2016
Reliability Improvement Television Campaign
These television ads were designed as part of the overall strategy to turnaround the “most hated company in America.” Media outlets would not report any positive messaging about major improvements in service reliability when we first arrived, so customers and other stakeholders would learn about our efforts.
These ads are a sampling of those we created as part of a multi-year, multi-million dollar television, radio, transit, online and print advertising strategy. The strategy highlighted data points on reliability and restoration process improvements and showed the “real people doing the real work,” that customers told us through research that they wanted to see.
As part of a series of ads to help turn around the reputation of Pepco, the DC-based utility of parent company Pepco Holdings, Inc., this television ad captures the work employees are doing to improve the electric system. The black and white series showed tremendous breakthrough power during testing.
Part of the same reliability series, this Pepco television ad featured employees working to improve the electric system and customer service, and was told in employees’ own words. It also captures specific data points that customers identified as important through our research.
As the third in the series, this television ad for Pepco highlighted the forward-thinking nature of the company and showed the “real people doing the real work,” which was what customers said they had wanted during initial research.
Hurricane Sandy Television Campaign
Because media coverage was relentlessly negative during storm restorations when we first arrived, we used the same approach as we used for the Reliability campaign of getting our story out through paid media for Hurricane Sandy. As with the Reliability ads, these television ads were focused on the “real people doing the real work,” were shot so they felt real-time, and gave customers context so they understood why their power might not be restored as quickly as they would like it to be. The ads aligned with our overall crisis communications strategy.
Following Hurricane Sandy restoration, research shows that 80% customer satisfaction with the restoration effort. In addition, we won five awards for the communications effort.
This television ad was created, shot, edited, and on the air all within 16 hours. It was designed to help customers understand the conditions crews were dealing with and why they might be out of power for several days.
We wrapped up storm restoration efforts with this ad thanking customers and crews, and reminding all audiences about the damage and work that was done to restore power.
Reliability Improvement Radio Campaign
After we developed the “Energy for a Changing World” tagline, which was created after Hurricane Sandy to help put context around the more frequent and violent storms in the mid-Atlantic, we created a series of radio ads that continued to tell the story of the work the company was doing to improve electric service reliability. The two-year radio campaign included 13 spots and we won over a dozen awards for them.
This spot, “Tom,” features a lineman who has noticed vast improvements in reliability and restoration technology. By featuring Tom, we continue to feature the “real people doing the real work,” which we learned through research would help us earn customers’ trust.
“Maria” is the story of an actual helpful encounter a customer service representative had with a customer. We found through testing that this spot helped customers better trust the company.
Though the content was initially difficult for some company leaders to hear, “Tory” resonated with customers because they could identify with her reliability issues in years past. We continued with the “real people doing the real work” in the customer spots for continuity and because that remained one of the most important elements for customers in all ads.
“Marvin” was another spot featuring a customer that told the story of how small businesses rely on reliable electricity. Marvin was paired with a Pepco employee to round out the story of reliability improvement.
Pepco Holdings-Exelon Merger Radio Campaign
After the nearly $7 billion Pepco Holdings-Exelon merger was rejected in the fall of 2015 by the Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia (DC PSC) — following approvals in all other jurisdictions — we launched an aggressive advertising campaign to highlight the tremendous benefits of the merger and drive District residents to sign an online petition. In 30 radio and print ads and direct mail pieces, and through social media campaign, we featured local customers who could speak directly to other District residents about the benefits that would impact them as well as local organizations that support residents like them every day. The merger was approved in March 2016 at a 29.5% premium.
To highlight the significant benefit of $16 million in low-income energy assistance, Erica Moore tells District residents in “Erica and George” that she sometimes needs help paying her utility bills and the merger will help families like hers.
In “Demika and Carmen,” Demika Austin shares her story of needing training to get a job and tells other District residents that she supports the merger because it will provide $5 million for workforce development.
District resident Robin Young, who says she is always looking for ways to save money, tells other Pepco customers in “Robin and Lewis” that she supports the merger because it will provide a $14 million one-time direct bill credit which can go a long way to help District residents.
In the spot “Boo and Kathy,” local restaurant manager Boo Kim talks about how electric service reliability is critical to his business and that he supports the merger because Pepco will be held to higher reliability standards which will lead to fewer and shorter power outages.