Ohio Commission Wires Review

State Earmarks $33 Mil. for Its Electric Deregulation Campaign
CHICAGO–The impending deregulation of the electric industry has prompted the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio to launch a $33 million review to find a shop that can educate consumers on their new choices.
The state agency put out a wide-ranging proposal request covering three distinct areas: advertising, public relations and market research.
“We’re looking for it all–anything it will take to let Ohioans know what their choices are,” said Lee Veroski, educational programs administrator for the commission, which goes by the acronym PUCO.
Following legislation passed last year, consumers in Ohio–the nation’s fourth-largest electricity market–will be able to choose their electricity supplier beginning next Jan. 1. The supplier they pick will generate the power, while their current electric company will distribute it through existing wires.
The budget will first cover a $16 million advertising and PR campaign scheduled to launch later this year. Sources estimated the ad account alone will be valued at $10 million in the first year. The other $17 million will be used during the remainder of the restructuring period, Veroski said.
A total of 18 agencies have been shortlisted for the three components of the campaign. Along
with five market research firms and six public relations shops, there are seven finalists vying for the advertising portion of the effort.
Contenders for the ad account are Bates USA Midwest, Indianapolis; Lord, Sullivan & Yoder, Columbus, Ohio; Northlich, Cincinnati; Wyse Advertising, Cleveland; and Fitzgerald & Co., Atlanta.
Two other ad agencies have formed coalitions with PR companies to join in the running: SBC Advertising in Columbus has partnered with High Point-Franklin in Bow, N.H.; and HMS Partners, Columbus, has joined with Cochran Communications.
“Because electric deregulation is a fairly dry topic and it isn’t top of mind for the consumer, a great deal of emphasis is going to be put on the creative aspect of this campaign,” Veroski said.
A decision in the review is expected by early March.

Publish date: January 31, 2000 https://stage.adweek.com/brand-marketing/ohio-commission-wires-review-28006/ © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT