AEP has released a follow-up to their untruthful, but very entertaining, lemonade stand commercial. The new commercial uses a game of dodge ball to paint FirstEnergy as a bunch of unfair bulllies beating up on poor, wimpy children. AEP has also stepped up their game by petitioning to intervene in FirstEnergy's Ohio rate case, in order to become as much of a legal pest to FE as FE has been to AEP in all of AEP's recent rate cases.
FirstEnergy attempted to make some improvements to their sickly counter campaign. They tried to come up with a memorable character/image that consumers could relate to that would give their campaign a boost. In their two new TV commercials here and here, FirstEnergy bets the farm on a couple of annoying, cheezy, bad actors who are pretending (too hard) to be angry at AEP for "taking away their right to shop." Apparently there really wasn't a winner to be found between Li'l CoalFella's molars, just a couple of chewed up landowners and ratepayers he has neglected to properly (and privately!) floss out since the PATH failure. Perhaps some of the other FE flacks might find something in their own dental work that doesn't just annoy the living spit out of people. It's worth a pick or two, because FE's current ad campaign is a big loser.
FirstEnergy should take a gander at the creativity and simplicity of AEP's messages and website. It's simple, memorable, and although it isn't exactly humorous, it's creative enough to make people watch the ads, instead of just being annoyed by FE's whiny monologues, which make a person want to change the channel!
There's way too much junk on FE's website, and still no clear message. AEP isn't taking away a "right to shop," they're just making it less profitable for FE when shopping occurs. If FE wants to run an effective counter-campaign, they need to answer AEP's message, not create some other confused and angry message.
What FE needs in their campaign is a little humor, such as we previously suggested, by having the little lemonade waif cross the street and demand that Mr. First Energy suit pay up for selling on "her" corner. To demonstrate the power of humor in effective messaging, and inspired by a chilled six-pack of Raging Bitch Ale, here are a few ideas Patience and I came up with:
- Spark some retro satire! Portray the AEP bigwigs as downtrodden, homeless panhandlers lined up on a busy city street (perhaps LittleDrummerBoy can play for spare change!) Suddenly, the little lemonade girl walks past them all, shedding a gigantic tear at how far they have fallen because of FirstEnergy's "unfair" practices, spoofing the iconic crying Indian. Poor, poor AEP! It's a crying shame!
- FE needs to make their characters more sympathetic. Instead of an annoying, nasal-sounding, "angry" woman in her fake-beautiful kitchen, how about some teddy bears, unicorns or funny clowns pointing out how AEP is ripping consumers off? Seniors and women love that stuff! Let's get happy here, FE!
- How about portraying AEP as a masked cat burglar going door-to-door, personally delivering AEP's monthly electric bill to unsuspecting consumers? "This is a stick-up!" (hint: get some talented actors, the ones you have now SUCK!)
- Now, for AEP, here's an idea for your next commercial. FE portrays themselves as the white knight whose only objective is to save consumers money. How fast do you suppose FE would beat feet when there's not as much profit in re-selling your capacity? FE pretends like they don't like to make money, but they're making a bundle at your expense, aren't they?
- For both companies: How about some face time with the CEO(s)? After all, a little plain folks propaganda isn't too hard to pull off. Have them show the public how they're "just like you," and shed that "faceless corporation" identity you're carrying like a lead weight around your ankles.
- FE: Why not show a little kid selling candy door to door, and this big, scary man comes up and lifts the kid upside down and shakes him 'til all his money comes out of his pocket?
- AEP's dodgeball commercial: Start the commercial as is, however, as the teams face off before the game starts, the sound mutes and action stops as the camera focuses on a quarter that falls out of someone's pocket and rolls slowly into the center of the gym floor, and lands, *Plink*. Sound and action suddenly resumes as both teams abandon the game and rush toward a new, greedy, vicious, individual battle to capture the wayward quarter and be the one to pocket it.
- Another take on the dodgeball commercial: Start the commercial as is, but have an audience sitting on the bleachers. A referee blows the starting whistle for the game, and both the geeks and the jocks turn and pummel the audience (ratepayers, of course - keep up, people, keep up!).
- The little girl at the lemonade stand gets into a real hair-pulling, scratching and biting fight with the big bad bully; but then they realize there's a crowd standing around watching and laughing their heads off. (And they all look like Keryn ...)
While watching these two claw and scratch is highly entertaining (and makes kissing and making up to partner on a reanimated PATH project much more unlikely), it isn't helping either company in their Ohio case. Everyone still hates AEP and thinks they're greedy. And nobody really cares to champion FirstEnergy's money-making "right to shop" schemes, either. I'm gonna make a prediction here... PUCO is gonna split the baby and come up with a capacity price somewhere in the middle. PUCO recently got caught with AEP's hand up their skirt and they're not going to end up with egg on their face again. The public is ANGRY! Unfortunately, neither one of these companies knows diddly-squat about harnessing that anger to champion their corporate profit-making cause. First, they would have to make people relate to them and like them.... and that's never going to happen. Corporations aren't people!!! Perhaps the power companies should get busy forming more fake grassroots "coalitions" to testify for them at PUCO. Oh wait, that doesn't work either! Too bad, so sad. Fight on, fellas, we're enjoying the show!