British Gas ramps up communications to repair brand reputation

British Gas is stepping up its marketing activity in a bid to arrest its haemorrhaging brand reputation after coming under fire from both the energy regulator and consumers in recent weeks.

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Ofgem fined British Gas a massive £2.5m last week for the way it had mishandled complaints.

The utilities company also received a backlash from customers after it reported a £1.26bn profit in the six months to June but also announced a double digit percentage hike in the cost of bills.

British Gas’ “buzz” – the measure of positive of negative things said about the brand – was at -51.28 yesterday (1 August), down 9.03 points from the previous week, according to YouGov’s Brand Index, which scores brands’ public perception.

At its highest point this year, the company’s buzz was at just -4.3 – still below its rivals – in March.

British Gas’ buzz has now dropped to twice as low as rival Scottish Power, which became the first utilities company this year to announce a major bill price rise. Scottish Power’s buzz was at -22.68 yesterday, up slightly (0.31) on the previous week.

A spokeswoman for British Gas says the company is “not surprised” events of the past few weeks have dented its brand reputation.

She adds: “We [recognise] that, as a British company serving almost half the homes in Britain, we have a responsibility and an opportunity to help customers understand the issues around energy now and in the future.

“That’s why we’re at the forefront of getting energy technologies and efficiency measures into our customers’ homes – and we’ll continue to deliver communications that help people understand what’s on offer, what British Gas can do to help, and how customers can keep control of energy use in their homes and businesses.”

When British Gas reported a 24% rise in its full-year profit in February, the company took out full-page press ads across the tabloids and broadsheets in an attempt to reassure its customers that its record profits were “good for Britain”.

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