SSE launches ad drive to tout 2016 price freeze

SSE has launched a nationwide awareness drive to highlight the fact that it is freezing energy prices until 2016, in what it claims is the longest unconditional price promise offered by a UK energy firm.

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SSE has announced it will freeze energy prices for almost 26 months.

The country’s second largest energy supplier, which powers around 5 million homes, says the move will “shield” customers from rising energy costs. Press and outdoor activity launches this week to promote the pledge, with SSE hoping it curbs the high customer churn it, alongside its rivals, have suffered since announcing price hikes last year.

Ads focus on promoting the unprecedented length of the offer with the supplier claiming “No ifs. No buts. No energy price rises from us before 2016”. Facebook and Twitter activity support the strategy and also direct visitors to a YouTube video of SSE chief executive Alistair Phillips-Davies discussing the deal’s benefits.

Phillips-Davies says the company is setting out a “positive agenda” for customers. The theme is likely to be continued later in the year when SSE unveils a revamped marketing strategy, developed in partnership with Adam & Eve/DDB and OMD.

Phillips-Davies adds: “With today’s announcements we’re recognising that delivering the lowest possible energy prices for our customers has to be central to everything we do.

“We’re doing our bit but we don’t want to stop at 2016. So today we’re making clear once again that we wish to work with people to find more ways of taking costs out of energy bills and, more specifically, to make sure the cost of energy taxes is paid for fairly in a way that is proportionate to people’s income and protects the vulnerable. In all of this, I hope that people will start to recognise SSE is not part of the problem but part of the solution.”

The energy supplier’s customer promise follows rival EDF’s pledge to freeze prices until the end of 2014 and is likely to put pressure on the rest of the Big Six to take similar action. The sector has been reluctant to freeze prices due to rising wholesale costs, while coming under repeated pressure from the Government and consumer groups to do more to curb rising energy bills. Last September, Labour said it would freeze prices for 20 months if it won the 2015 general election.

SSE also revealed today (26 March) it was legally separating retail and wholesale divisions to improve transparency.

The raft of announcements come a day before Ofgem reveals whether it will refer the sector to the Competition and Markets Authority for a full enquiry. It will reportedly call for a two-year competition investigation, which some observers claim could consequently lead to a break- up of the Big Six or tougher measures to create two separate entities from their business.

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