British Gas reviews PR as customers defect

British Gas, which has haemorrhaged almost one million customers over the past 12 months, is offering up to £500,000 for a PR agency that can revive its vision of becoming the UK’s leading provider of home services.

QBO Bell Pottinger, which handled consumer PR for five years, parted company with BG last month, it has emerged. A QBO source said the agency declined to repitch after a ‘divergence of views’ over optimal PR strategy.

Freud Communications and Cohn & Wolfe are said to be frontrunners to secure the account, while Blue Rubicon is also thought to be on a three-strong shortlist.

A PR contract with a budget of at least £300,000, which one source said could stretch to £500,000, is up for grabs.

Customers deserted BG in droves last year as the firm raised energy prices. Regulator Ofgem advised customers to shop around following the inflation-busting increases.

A BG source denied the PR review was related to the bad publicity incurred by the rises, saying the PR contract was to help the company become peoples’ preferred supplier of all services related to home maintenance.

BG’s latest TV campaign, which sees Royle Family star Ricky Tomlinson ditched in favour of actress Brenda Blethyn, hit screens this week. The ads are developed by Clemmow Hornby Inge, with which Freuds last year launched a joint venture, Freud Inside.

BG head of brand PR Simon Henderson is co-ordinating the review.

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