EDF Energy hunts for agency to handle £500,000 consumer and sports accounts

EDF Energy has put its lucrative consumer and sports PR accounts up for pitch after a year in which it courted considerable negative publicity.

Energy crisis: EDF
Energy crisis: EDF

The £500,000 business has been handled by Lexis PR since 2007. It is the second of the agency's key accounts to be reviewed this year, after it lost its hold on Nokia's UK business in October.

The energy company sent a tender request to selected consultancies last week. One source who received a request suggested that EDF had 'lost its way as a consumer brand'.

Earlier this year, the company attracted a backlash from the environmental community when it launched Green Britain Day, an initiative to 'help people make long-term, low-carbon lifestyle changes.'

Critics attacked the advertisements, which featured a green union flag, as an example of 'greenwashing', given EDF's heavy involvement in the global coal industry. They also pointed to the irony of a French company using the union flag.

The campaign also promp- ted rivals British Gas, Npower and Ecotricity to run spoiler campaigns that derided EDF's green credentials.

'The Green Britain Day was quite an impressive idea,' said the source, 'but it did not have the impact EDF wanted.

'If you look at Npower, it is doing good work. British Gas' PR is modernising the brand,' the source added. 'Then you look at EDF: it just feels clunky, with the exception of its sponsorship activity.'

EDF Energy is the 'sustainability partner' of the 2012 London Olympics. The company's senior media manager, Rajan Lakhani, told PRWeek the pitch was 'normal practice' because the contract with incumbent Lexis PR is due to expire shortly.

Keegan Wilson, director of green PR specialist Substance PR, said: 'If EDF wants to build consumer trust, there has to be honesty in what it does.'

Wilson added: 'Originality is key, and to avoid stepping on rivals' toes, the company needs to demonstrate responsibly how and where EDF is leading in the market, showing us how it is greener, how it is protecting our energy security and really listening to consumer views.'

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