THE MARKETING 100: ENRON: BETH TILNEY

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Deregulation in the utilities industry is creating new marketing related questions. To get answers Enron turned to Beth Tilney.

Enron, a $14 billion global gas and utilities company, forged ahead with a full-scale marketing campaign, headed by its senior VP-marketing, communications and administration, to build Enron into a national and even global brand.

"They said, 'OK, Beth, how do we do it?'" recalls Ms. Tilney, who in March 1996 moved from Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, Houston, to Enron. Brand-building "never had to be known before."

Today, Enron is one of the top utility marketers in the U.S., with an aggressive brand-building strategy involving a multifaceted marketing scheme and a $30 million to $50 million budget. That could increase if more states allow utility marketing.

Through TV and print ads, along with a new corporate logo, the company spread the Enron name across the U.S.

"We said to people, 'Deregulation is coming. As you begin to have a choice, what do you need from us?' " says Ms. Tilney, 40. "Consumers told us that they all want a choice, but they're a little uncertain. We needed to establish that we were a viable company and that they could trust us."

Pilot projects in Toledo, Ohio, and Petersborough, N.H., used direct-response TV that offered a toll-free number and a World Wide Web site where consumers could get more information on deregulation and Enron.

The pilot projects have also used telemarketing and local newspaper advertising.

"We have an enormous amount of people calling the 1-800 number wanting more information," Ms. Tilney says. "They're asking, how do we get a choice? What is Enron?"

Enron has surged ahead in marketing on a level unseen by most other utility companies.

"We sought to think creatively about establishing a new brand," she says. "Utilities are trying to reinforce relationships" with consumers.

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