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VIENNA (May 22, 2001) -- Arnold Schwarzenegger is being challenged by John Lennon in a battle to win customers for competing electricity companies. German electricity companies RWE and E.on have lined up the heavyweights in their determination to catch the most customers.

RWE suffered an early setback when first choice for their adverts, soccer trainer Christoph Daum, became involved in a cocaine scandal.

E.on showed no mercy by launching a series of adverts featuring Arnie -- he picks up a number of household appliances and shakes them to make them work. This heads up the latest 'Mix it' slogann for the firm's option for customers to choose the energy sources from which their electricity comes -- from nuclear to water.

E.on spokesman Josef Nelles says: "We use two advertising agencies, a big one called Grey from Dusseldorf and another one called Start in Munich. They share out the work between them. Getting Schwarzenegger was important to us because although he is one of the top celebrities, in Europe he hardly does any advertising so it is not as if he would be appearing in more than one ad at the same time."

Mr. Nelles would not be drawn on how much money had gone into the campaign although insiders suggest the company spends up to $50 million a year on advertising.

But now RWE has spent around $50 million according to press reports, and has brought John Lennon into play. His song ``Imagine'' will be used in TV and radio adverts to advertise RWE electricity, gas and water supply.

"The campaign deliberately sets the company apart from our competitors exclusively supplying electricity," says Dieter Schweer, RWE head of communications.

RWE employed the Hamburg-based company Heye and Partner to develop the campaign.

Manager of the Hamburg office Ulrich Gosse says, "We bought the rights to use the song from Yoko One herself. She has the rights. We have 60 seconds worth of the song to use and although it is not in the foreground of the television advert, it is a vital part of it.''

He says the advert traces the 100-year history of the company and projects into the future, stressing that customers can now get everything from electricity supply to waste disposal from the company. The ad campaign does not include any footage or pictures of Lennon. -- Michael Leidig

Copyright May 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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