BG&E hopes ads power brighter image

November 13, 1990|By Maria Mallory

Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. has taken to the airwaves to tout its ability to restore power following outages caused by natural disasters -- such as the tornado that touched down in Glyndon a month ago.

With a new ad campaign, the utility is heralding the recovery work done by its 9,000 employees -- the "People Behind the Power," which is the theme for the ads.

In 30- and 60-second commercials designed by the Baltimore ad agency Richardson, Myers & Donofrio, actors and utility employees pretend to confront a power outage caused by a make-believe storm.

BG&E spent $300,000 to produce and run the ads, the latest of the company's advertisements designed to bolster its image with customers, Lawrence J. Bur, the utility's director of advertising, said yesterday.

Mr. Bur said that the funds used for the ads were paid for by stockholders. "It is an important distinction in terms of distinguishing the kinds of advertising," he said. Advertisements on conservation and energy management may be paid for by customers, but "this is more image and institutional advertising, paid by the stockholders," he said.

Although BG&E has received its share of criticism for its troubled Calvert Cliffs nuclear generators and increases in customer rates, Mr. Bur said the commercials were not necessarily designed to counteract these image problems.

"This is basically a good way to remind our customers that BG&E is out there providing a quality service that they have come to expect," Mr. Bur said.

Whether BG&E will win more admirers with the commercials is debatable, said Janelle A. Cousino, executive director of the Maryland Citizen Action Coalition, a consumer advocate group.

"I'm not sure what their 'bragging' will do with the regular guy on the street," said Ms. Cousino, who hasn't seen the ads. "I think people care [more] about what they have to pay for the service. It's their job to deal with outages of all kinds, regardless of what the reason."

The commercials started running on local network affiliates Wednesday and will run through the end of the month, Mr. Bur said.

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