- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 14, 2003

Pepco has issued a request for proposals for a new campaign to educate D.C. residents and small businesses about electricity deregulation.

Potomac Electric Power Co. is managing the two-year contract and fronting the budget, which is capped at $3.5 million, for the D.C. Public Service Commission.

An RFP was issued in 2001 for a consumer-education campaign about deregulation, but the Consumer Education Advisory Board, which was selecting the bidder and recommending it to the D.C. Public Service Commission for approval, had a split decision between two ad agencies. A decision was never made.

So now it’s round two. Pepco held a meeting last week with potential bidders to discuss in detail the new contract, which has some slight modifications. This RFP states the contract is worth up to $3.5 million, a budget that was not specified in the first contract.

However, at least two clauses in the RFP may deter some agencies from submitting a bid.

First, the contract states that all creative work from the bidding agencies will become the property of Pepco. The power company has the “right to use any and all ideas or adaptations of ideas contained in any proposal,” the RFP states.

Pepco says the reason for the clause is to protect the company if similar work is ever used. Tom Welle, manager of advertising, says the company does not plan to take the creative work from one agency and give it to the winning agency to use.

“At face value that [clause] set my hair on fire,” said Cary Hatch, president of MDB Communications in the District. “But I take them at their word. It’s something to protect them.”

Another clause says Pepco will retain 10 percent of the bill from the ad agency until the D.C. Public Service Commission permits Pepco to recover the full costs of the contract. That’s down from the 25 percent of the bill Pepco was going to withhold in 2001.

But Mr. Welle said it’s just another precaution. At the time, the company was unsure if and how it would get compensated for the ad budget. But Pepco probably will recoup the costs through a surcharge on D.C. electric bills.

Bids are due Jan. 9. A recommendation by the Consumer Education Advisory Board to the D.C. Public Service Commission is expected by the end of March, Mr. Welle said.

In other news …

• The Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority (MWAA) will issue a request for proposal (RFP) for its estimated $750,000-to-$1 million annual advertising and marketing account during the first quarter of 2004. The authority operates Ronald Reagan Washington National and Washington Dulles International airports.

The airports authority also will issue an RFP for an agency to publish its Washington Flyer, a magazine that runs six times a year, and operate the video kiosks at both airports.

• The Mills Corp., based in Arlington, has named Pedone & Partners Advertising as its agency of record after a three-month review. Mills, which owns and manages shopping centers such as Arundel Mills and Potomac Mills, has about a $10 million advertising budget for 2004.

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

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