First Utility looks to tackle disengagement with first national TV campaign

Challenger energy brand First Utility is looking to tackle the inert market that sees the Big Six utility firms take advantage of customer disengagement through its first national TV campaign, which highlights the added value and services it promises to offer.

The “How the deal was won” campaign, created by Upstart, will launch on TV today (16 January) followed by radio and digital in the coming weeks in an effort to attract consumers by claiming that by switching to First Utility they can save more than £200 a year.

The two spots are voiced by British actor Mark Strong and use spoof story lines inspired by James Bond and Lawrence of Arabia to demonstrate the willingness of the company’s staff, or “pricing heroes”, to go “above and beyond” on missions to bring customers the lowest prices.

The company’s slogan, “We put our energy into lowering prices”, will be applied across the campaign, which is the biggest marketing investment for the company to date in the “several million category” for the six week period.

Ed Kamm, chief customer officer for First Utility, told Marketing Week: “Consumers are generally disengaged on energy. If you move into a new house, you already have an energy provider and don’t make a purchase decision. Big players take advantage of this and actively serve to keep customers disengaged by not billing them frequently or giving them insight into their usage.”

The company claims that it performed a survey of households and found that 78% would switch energy companies for a better price.

“We’re not a brand that’s necessarily recognised, so we’re trying to bring our brand to customers, tell them who we are and what we’re about, and tell them we can deliver savings.”

First Utility claims to be the UK’s largest and fastest-growing independent energy supplier, having gained 1.3 million customer accounts since its launch in 2008. The company says that independents hold 10% share of the market, with First Utility claiming 3% of that share.

In 2013 it formed a trading partnership with Shell Energy Europe Ltd, which acts as an intermediary to competitively source gas and electricity from the wholesale market.

Kamm says that now First Utility wants to make the industry better.

“We don’t want the Big Six to become the Big Seven,” he says.

Its move to challenge the Big Six (SSE, Scottish Power, Npower, E.ON, EDF Energy and Centrica) comes after UK business, energy and enterprise minister Matthew Hancock called on the companies to cut prices last week given that the price of oil has dropped by more than 50% since June 2014.

While it was believed the companies would not do so before the election with the Labour party pledging to freeze energy prices for 20 months if elected, E.ON afterwards announced it would cut gas prices by 3.5%, a move that could trigger cuts by rivals.

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