Ovo Energy has hired a head of comms and is now in talks with a number of top PR agencies as it prepares to hand out a six-figure PR and lobbying brief.
The firm was established in 2009 and claims to be the country's cheapest gas and electricity provider. As the main six energy companies plan more price hikes, newcomer Ovo is developing an aggressive comms and lobbying campaign to capitalise on the expected backlash.
A brief drawn up by Ovo and seen by PRWeek calls for agencies with expertise in media relations, lobbying, alliance-building with consumer organisations and social media.
Ovo is lobbying for Ofgem to introduce a price differential limit between energy companies' median and cheapest tariffs. The brief promises a 'substantive bonus payment' if the 'required Ofgem decision is achieved'.
The brief also calls for the chosen agency to 'ensure consumers understand the simplicity, the benefits and the need to abandon their big six energy suppliers'.
The account is said to be worth up to £250,000 a year in fees. Edelman, Hill & Knowlton and Bell Pottinger are among the agencies thought to have been shortlisted. An appointment is expected imminently.
The successful agency will start work on an initial campaign for four to six months, aimed at introducing Ovo to consumers. That campaign is expected to be followed by an ongoing retained account.
The comms strategy is being led by Roy Payne, who joined Ovo as head of comms last month.
Payne has previously headed comms for Cable & Wireless and the British Film Institute.
THE ENERGY PLAYERS
Ovo Energy is a British-owned privately backed independent supplier that launched in September 2009.
The 'big six' energy firms are British Gas, E.On Energy, EDF Energy, Npower, Scottish and Southern Energy and Scottish Power.
Labour MP John Robertson recently described the big six as 'a bloated cartel'.