Blog: Can fart gags poach Big Six customers?

You can’t move at the moment for small energy suppliers trying to poach customers from their bigger rivals. Last month we had Ovo Energy handing out Valentines on the 14th […]

By Vicky Ellis

You can’t move at the moment for small energy suppliers trying to poach customers from their bigger rivals.

Last month we had Ovo Energy handing out Valentines on the 14th of February, bombarding people at railway stations with pink T-shirted staff asking people to “feel the love” again.

From what I saw on Twitter it seemed to be going down marvellously with the British public. (It may even have proved TOO successful, judging by twitter rumblings about mix-ups and delayed call backs.)

Now green energy firm Ecotricity is having a crack at the Big Six too – with a barmy, snort-inducing film about farting gas flares.

The chimneys themselves look embarrassed by their flatulence – and we certainly giggled over it in the ELN newsroom.

 

Ecotricity’s land grab is written in black and white, stating at the end of the film: “Without knowing it a third of British householders are already supporting fracking through their gas bills. They are supplied by British Gas”.

It’s a reference to British Gas owner Centrica’s stake in UK fracking firm Cuadrilla. Pick us, goes the subtext, we’re nicer to the environment.

In my opinion the video doesn’t quite make sense – the main message is that Ecotricity will never buy fracked gas for its customers because “fracking” is bad… but the chimneys are fairly generic refineries. They will probably be used to process the gas Ecotricity supplies homes with anyway.

But whether it makes sense or not doesn’t really matter. This is all about capturing the imaginations of customers. It’s about humanising a business.

They’re playing – and may end up beating – the Big Six at their own game. (Here I’ll point to EDF’s annoying “Zingy” cartoon. I’ve made my distaste for that thing crystal clear.)

Ovo’s and Ecotricity’s guerrilla PR is all about grabbing that little bit of space in the back of someone’s mind. Next time they think about energy bills? Bingo – farting chimneys. Or a Valentine’s gift.

If you ask me, this is only the beginning for smaller suppliers. As they grow in confidence, they seem to be stepping up their ambitions. Perhaps competition between suppliers is improving – at least in their spend on advertising.

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