Back in 2013, Tauranga-based Trustpower launched its 'Better Together' campaign, which positioned the company as a multi-utility service provider offering power, gas, phone and broadband. In April 2014, it ventured back into the Auckland, Wellington and Hamilton markets after an absence of ten years. And then in March this year it launched its '$49 Unlimited Data Broadband' campaign, which shows two quirky characters—Captain Energy and Broadband Girl—connecting at a nerd convention. Now, following what marketing communications manager Carolyn Schofield says was public demand, the pair have returned and they're taking their relationship to the next level with a spot of karaoke.
Although the initial brief was not for an ongoing series of ads, Schofield says the characters have really resonated with viewers and she's been asked constantly ‘what happens next?’. Even the chairman of the Trustpower board wanted to know, she says.
"Our customer experience advocates regularly receive phone calls from customers for no other reason than to ask when the next part is coming," she says. "So we’re giving people what they are asking for and continuing the story."
Once again, the campaign, which was created by Gunroom and shot by Chris Dudman from Robber’s Dog and also includes billboards, online and direct marketing, aims "to tell a story, create a strong emotion and communicate the $49 unlimited data broadband offer". The deal is available for the first year and goes up to $79 in the second year when customers sign up for power and broadband on a 24 month term. And she says the success of the campaign to date has established Trustpower as a serious competitor to the major telcos.
In its May report, it said it has "approximately 266,000 energy connections, including 24,000 gas connections, plus 38,000 telco connections", so it's probably not worrying the likes of Spark and Vodafone too much just yet. But she says the feedback it's been getting from within both the electricity and telco industries is that it's having an impact. It has added 25,000 new customers since the campaign launched, which she says is significant. And its research showed that a big part of the appeal for customers is the ease of service and getting one bill for everything. That also increases customer loyalty, according to its report.
"We have been gaining several hundred new phone and broadband customers every week since the campaign started, mainly at the expense of the major telcos. In fact Spark and Genesis have trialled a joint offer. However, because you still have to sign up to each company separately, still deal with two companies and two separate customer services and they are not able to match us on the $49 unlimited data broadband for a year price there is little benefit for the customer."
She says it learned how to provide telco services after ten years of operating the Kinect brand. But the broadband bundle offer has been highly effective in repositioning Trustpower from a regional electricity provider that offers some telco services to "a fully integrated multi-utility retailer" that operates nationally. Since the beginning of this year, awareness of the brand as a telco provider has increased by over 200 percent and consideration has increased by over 300 percent.
"Last year around 20 percent of our new power customers also switched to Trustpower for phone and broadband, now over 60 percent do."
She can't say whether the pair will return again, but "we've got a lot more of their story to tell".
Within the telco realm, there is a degree of bundling, either through content offers like Sky, Lightbox, Neon etc, or discounts for taking multiple products. But Schofield says Trustpower's bundled offering across different utilities is unique in the New Zealand market and she only knows of only two other companies in Australia and the UK that do it. And she says they're both performing well.
She says the last two years have been a time of incredible change for the company and that hasn't been easy. And while it managed to sell the transformation externally, it was also a big internal challenge given so many of the staff had long tenures at Trustpower.
Separate from the $49 broadband and power deal, Trustpower is also offering other sweeteners to customers who switch all their services, including capped power and gas prices until 2017, and an up to $250 discount.
For its troubles, Trustpower was recognised at the recent Deloitte Energy Awards where it won the Consumer NZ Energy Retailer of the Year award. At the ceremony Chris O’Hara, Trustpower’s general manager of commercial operations, said: “To those of you who are involved in energy and telecommunications retailing and may be feeling a little uncomfortable about what we have been up to, this is just the start. And you ain’t seen nothing yet.”
She says customer service is extremely important to the company and was a big reason for the win, with a major part of the judging criteria based on the results of the Consumer NZ customer satisfaction survey. She also points to an episode of Fair Go a few weeks ago that showed it was the best of all power companies when it came to the number of unresolved customer complaints relative to the size of the customer base.
While its campaign appears to have been effective, with the company reporting a 20 percent profit increase for the March year, it did earn the ire of social media users and some in the Filipino community for a misguided attempt to show off the fact its call centre workers were based in New Zealand.
Client: Carolyn Schofield, Marketing Communications Manager, Trustpower
Creative: Daniel Crayford
Account Director: Nick Sampson
TV Production: Robber’s Dog
Director: Chris Dudman
Producer: Mark Foster
Original Music: Liquid Studios - Peter van der Fluit
Media: Independent Media NZ – Mark Reekie