- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 2, 2005

D.C. residents soon will get an electrifying message. A two-year, $2.9 million consumer awareness campaign will begin later this month to give residents and businesses information about the District’s transition to the competitive electricity marketplace.

For the past four years, Potomac Electric Power Co. has capped electricity rates for D.C. customers. But the rate cap on electricity supply will be lifted Feb. 8 and new market-based rates will go into effect.

Pepco estimates that D.C. customers will see an average increase in their total bills of about $10 per month once the cap is lifted.

The goal of the campaign is to educate city residents on the new marketplace, changing electricity rates and wise energy use. It also will provide resources so residents can make informed choices about electricity suppliers.

In addition to Pepco Energy Services, other approved electric generation and transmission suppliers include Washington Gas Energy Services, Strategic Energy LLC and Consolidated Edison Solutions.

In October, a survey of 1,000 D.C. residents showed that just 10 percent were aware that the rate cap would be lifted and that their electric bills would change.

The campaign, authorized by the D.C. Public Service Commission, was created by Dittus Communications Inc. in the District and Walls Communications Inc. of Silver Spring.

The agencies designed a targeted campaign, in several different languages, that uses the tag line “Take charge of your electric bill.”

Beginning in mid-January, hundreds of ads will be placed on Metro buses and rail cars, as well as at bus shelters. Five local radio stations will air a 30-second spot.

Another important element to the campaign is reaching community organizations to help spread the word. About 40,000 brochures have been published, and direct-mail pieces will be sent to about 7,500 community leaders.

The campaign directs residents to call a consumer information line or visit www.DCisElectric.com to learn more.

GKV, Campbell merge

Two competing Baltimore ad agencies became one on Saturday when GKV Communications and the Campbell Group officially joined forces.

The new agency, which will keep the GKV Communications name, has combined annual billings of $150 million and 100 employees. Ten employees were laid off as a result of the merger.

Executives include Roger L. Gray as chairman, chief executive officer and partner, and Jeff Millman as vice chairman, chief creative officer and partner. Both were with the original GKV.

From the Campbell Group side: Brian Hall is the new president and chief operating officer, Cristina Creager is the new executive vice president and director of creative services, and Andy Dumaine is the new executive vice president and chief marketing officer.

Both agencies have experience in the tourism industry, with such clients as the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, which includes the state’s tourism account, Baltimore Area Convention & Visitors Association, Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts, InterContinental Hotels & Resorts and Puerto Rico Tourism.

Other clients include the Maryland Aviation Administration, Independence Air, BGE Home, Lance Snacks and Martek Biosciences.

New wins

• Redman Communications in Rockville has three new clients. The agency is providing publicity and promotional services to the American Kidney Fund. Redman is developing and implementing direct-mail and corporate marketing campaigns for mortgage lender Mason Dixon Funding.

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

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