npower seeks agencies to help build up its brand

npower, the national energy supplier formed by the merger of MEB, Calortex and Energy Direct, is putting its PR account up for pitch.

Incumbent agency Harrison Cowley will be in the running, and it is believed Shandwick International, Hill & Knowlton, Jackie Cooper Public Relations and Freud Communications may also pitch for the work. Geraldine Dunne, npower external communications manager, said the process was in the early stages.

According to Dunne, it was too early to say whether one or more agencies will be taken on for the work.

As a new name to the energy sector, launching in October 1999, npower is looking to build its brandwith consumers and businesses.

Harrison Cowley runs a corporate press office for npower out of its Birmingham office, and handles brand building work through its London office.

npower has also hired John Taylor International to help it achieve best value from its estimated pounds 3m sponsorship of the FA Premier League.

npower has been an associate sponsor of the Premier League since August, but only hired JTI last month.

JTI, a sports PR and sponsorship specialist, will be in charge of npower's Premier League PR and promotional activity.

It will also act as sponsorship consultant to the company, advising on further sponsorship opportunities.

The energy firm also sponsors ITV's police drama The Bill.

Dunne said npower's sponsorships placed it as an 'exciting property, far beyond the traditional reach of a utilities company', but that it needed an experienced partner to 'guide us through the world of sports sponsorship'.

According to the Gas Consumers' Council, npower received more complaints over the techniques of its sales people than other gas suppliers.

It currently has 3.2 million customers, but its target is between four and five million.

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