Launching this evening (9 August), a TV spot features countryside animals including squirrels and mice hunkering down to sleep at night. Created by CHI&Partners, it will focus on the brand’s commitment to helping customers look after their homes through features such as boiler servicing, smart meters and cheaper gas and electricity.
Speaking to Marketing Week, director of brand marketing Margaret Jobling said British Gas has seen real success with its Planet Home push with an increase in brand NPS scores and high recognition of the campaign. However the brand now wants to drive a more emotional connection and engagement with consumers.
As part of that shift, British Gas has changed the strapline of the campaign from “looking after your world” to “looking after your home”. It is also shifting its sponsorship tagline for Channel 4 from “sponsor of property on 4” to “sponsor of homes on 4”.
“Our role in the UK is keeping customers homes warm and working. The insights Planet Home was build on was that people’s home is their world and that is still highly relevant, there is a British culture around home and home ownership. We want to own the territory of ‘home’,” she said.
The campaign will evolve over the colder winter months with the objective of reassuring current customers and giving prospective ones a reason to pick the brand. The aim is to drive metrics like “is this a brand for me” and boost British Gas’s position as a modern British brand.
Moving away from price-led messaging
Jobling said part of the plan is to make British Gas “important in people’s lives” rather than a brand driven by price. Jobling has spent most of her career in FMCG, most recently at Birds Eye, where the priority was to add value, not just be seen as a “BOGOF brand”.
The attraction of British Gas, she said, was the direct relationship between the brand and the consumer.
“This brand is thousands of people working in a company – converstaions in the call centre, engineers in the home, communications. In FMCG there is always a gap between the communication you create and the relationship with the customer.
“The challenge here is permeating a company with the brand, the positioning, the tone of voice.”
Margaret Jobbing, brand marketing director, British Gas
She admits utilities have had a rough time of late, highlighted by the Competition and Markets authority’s investigation into the market. She said the way British Gas separates its brand from the market is by “constantly talking to customers and understanding what they need”.
“We are looking at how we can use technology and innovation to digitise the business and find ways to make it easier for customers to interact with us. We are pumping £50m into customer service because of the importance of helping customers,” she said.
How technology will impact utilities
Jobling said she expects utilities to undergo a fundamental change over the next five to 10 years as technology impacts the industry. For example smart meters will allow customers to get accurate readings of their spend while connected homes mean they can alter central heating while on the move.
“People are interacting with utilities in a way they have never done before. Our opportunity is to lead the way, educate and raise awareness to help customer understand consumption and what they can practically do to save money,” she said.
That tech shift also includes how it communicates with customers. British Gas has historically done a lot of more traditional media such as DM and door drops but is looking to digitise this and invest more in social channels.
“We have to make sure we are fishing where the fish are and targeting people when they want to talk. When we look at the future cohort their behaviour is very different to ours, they want to text not pick up the phone,” she said.
The shifting demographics also impacts British Gas’s wider business. Over the next 20 years there are expected to be more people renting, there is an ageing population and more families will have their elderly parents or grown up children living with them.
“Technology is unlocking a great opportunity to be more agile in what we communicate. But whether people own or rent, live with their parents or have their parents live with them they still have a high emotional attachment to their home,” she said.