- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 7, 2005

Pepco has powered up its marketing to focus on its Hispanic customers.

The electric utility is targeting Spanish-speaking customers with three campaigns that highlight payment options, customer service and satisfaction, and emergency preparedness.

The campaigns, which are in Spanish and use radio, print and television, were created by Maya Advertising & Communications in the District.

“Pepco has steadily marketed to Latinos,” said Luis Vasquez-Ajmac, president of Maya. “They understand that the cookie-cutter marketing approach doesn’t work.”

Pepco, a subsidiary of Pepco Holdings Inc., provides electric service to more than 725,000 customers in Maryland and the District. About 12 percent to 15 percent of those customers are Hispanic, said Tom Welle, Pepco manager for brand advertising.

One print ad features a computer mouse, a cell phone and a debit card — all forms of paying a Pepco bill.

Pepco also is sponsoring weather segments on the nightly newscasts of Univision’s local affiliate WMDO-TV in August and September. Fifteen-second TV spots list steps customers should take during a power outage, and 30-second ads with the same message are running on Spanish-speaking radio stations, including WLZL-FM (99.1), also known as El Zol.

In addition, Pepco is running brand-building print and radio ads focusing on customer satisfaction.

The campaigns are scheduled to run through October.

Maya, which was founded in 1990, has had a strong focus on energy marketing. The agency has developed energy-awareness campaigns for the U.S. Navy, the Montgomery County Energy Assistance Program and Energy Star.

Marketing movement

Merkle, a database marketing agency with headquarters in Lanham, is enjoying a growth spurt.

The company, whose clients include Dell Inc., Marriott Vacation Club, Geico and Nationwide Insurance, has opened an office in Boston — its fourth location outside Maryland.

In the past two years, Merkle has opened satellite offices in Philadelphia, Denver and Atlanta, which together employ about 50 people. The Boston office will be a bigger operation with a 15,000-square-foot facility and more than 100 employees. Merkle has four other offices in Maryland that employ about 325 people.

Merkle has grown because companies understand the importance of targeting messages to the right customers, said President and Chief Executive Officer David Williams. They want to spend marketing dollars effectively to get the best return on investment, he said.

“Not all customers are created equal,” Mr. Williams said. “Everybody is trying to deal with a more customer-centric strategy … and that’s accelerated our growth.”

The company’s 90,000-square-foot headquarters houses about 350 employees, but Mr. Williams said he plans to relocate in the next two years to a 125,000-square-foot to 150,000-square-foot facility in the Washington area.

Merkle, which had sales of $79 million last year, expects sales to reach $100 million this year and about $130 million in 2006, Mr. Williams said.

Donna De Marco can be reached at 202/636-4884. Advertising & Marketing runs every other Monday.

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