Watchdog: npower ads did not mislead

watchdogEon-owned Powergen has been dealt another blow in its continuing battle with rival energy provider npower after having a complaint against npower rejected by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

Last month RWE-owned npower admitted its latest campaign was a “copycat” of Eon’s push to promote its Go Green energy product (MW August 9). At the time Kevin Peake, npower head of customer marketing, described the ad as “a bit of fun”, but Powergen thought otherwise.

Powergen complained to the ASA that the npower ads, which like its own Winds of Change strategy created by TBWA/London, featured people blowing in the wind, were imitating its own ad strategy. The CAP code states that: “No marketing communication should so closely resemble any other that it misleads, is likely to mislead or causes confusion” and that “marketers making comparisons with identifiable competitors and/or their products should not present products as imitations or replicas of products bearing a protected trade mark or trade name”.

But a spokesman for the ASA says that while the regulatory body was sympathetic to Powergen’s complaint, it decided not to investigate as the npower ad did not create any “artificial advantage” for the RWE brand and that “similarity is no breach” of the code. He adds that customers are very aware of the competitive nature of the energy market and thus were unlikely to have been confused by the creative.

Both the npower and Powergen ads promote their green energy tariffs and both use wind generation to convey their message. In an ad campaign for npower’s juice several years ago, the company used images of a woman’s hair and a dog’s ears blowing in the wind, among other wind-inspired imagery.


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