First Utility slams big six’s ‘lullaby’ marketing as it launches first brand campaign

First Utility has launched a new campaign today (4 January) in a bid to ‘call out’ the big six suppliers and grow its market share further with a brand position that aims to engage and empower consumers.

Created by VCCP, the campaign will run across TV, outdoor, press, social and digital. The ad sees First Utility launch mock energy company HD Electricity, which promotes the “power of unicorn horns” to emphasise that people shouldn’t pay more because “all energy does the same”.

The campaign also launches First Utility’s new brand position ‘Knowledge is Power’, which highlights the company’s goal to engage and empower customers.

According to the brand’s head of marketing Paul Cable, its advertising campaign is “more honest” than the “lullaby marketing” from the big six energy suppliers, which includes British Gas, SSE and Eon.

“Much of the rhetoric in their advertising and marketing talks to their strategy – they don’t want consumers to understand or engage with them,” he told Marketing Week.

“Their advertising is often sweet, cartoony – at best it’s fluffy. We on the other hand have created something cinematic with a high production value, yet we’re brave enough to call others out in a tongue-in-cheek way.”

‘The power of brand’

First Utility is the largest of the independent energy providers, claiming a 4% market share in Q3 2015. All the independent suppliers combined have a market share of 14.6%, leaving the big six with a mammoth 85.4% share. The energy supplier also grew its customer base 28.6% year on year in 2015 to reach 900,000, according to company data.

Cable wants to continue this trajectory by reaching out to a bigger audience.

“We see ourselves as challengers to re-engage disengaged audience. When you think that 40% of the British public have never switched providers, while 70% are on the most expensive tariffs with the big six, it feels right for us to tell a story that’s truly engaging,” he commented.

“We want to grow, drive sales, brand awareness and brand trust that derives from having a more famous identity. This will help customers see us as a viable alternative. The power of brand is something that we don’t underestimate.”

The campaign will run throughout Q1 of 2016, after which the team will analyse the campaign’s performance. Depending on its success, Cable will seek to evolve its brand strategy.

He concluded: “We want to evolve the campaign rather than give it an end date. Whether or not unicorns will be used as the next part of the story is too early to tell.”

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