NEWS: Mrs Merton debuts in ad blitz for British Gas

Mrs Merton, the character created by the comedian, Caroline Hook, has made her commercials debut in what is also British Gas’s first TV campaign to promote domestic sales of gas since the ‘control’ commercials ceased two years ago.

Mrs Merton, the character created by the comedian, Caroline Hook, has

made her commercials debut in what is also British Gas’s first TV

campaign to promote domestic sales of gas since the ‘control’

commercials ceased two years ago.



BMP DDB Needham’s pounds 4 million, six-week campaign coincides with the

start of the phasing out of British Gas’s monopoly at the end of next

month, when eight companies will compete for supply contracts to the

South-west region’s 500,000 domestic customers.



The ads have been launched in the South-west this week and a national

primetime roll-out will follow on 2 April, gathering momentum towards

the national deregulation of domestic gas supplies in two years’ time.



While the new competition, including Total and Calortex, is focusing on

lower prices to lure the consumer away from British Gas, the incumbent

is barred from using a specific price proposition and is instead

focusing on added-value services to protect its customer base.



The ad blitz is spearheaded by two 50-second spots. The first promotes

the British Gas Password Scheme, while the second pushes the Energy

Efficiency Advice Service, a new brand that offers energy efficiency

surveys and advice for customers at home.



In the first film, Mrs Merton plays a nosey neighbour and takes an

energy efficiency advice questionnaire over the road as an excuse to

find out who’s moving in. Mrs Merton claims the last occupant of the

house, Mr Townsend, was ‘always complaining about his draughty passages,

the saucy old devil’.



In the second, Mrs Merton visits her friend, Rita. When a man arrives on

the doorstep announcing he is Romeo, she thinks he is Rita’s ‘fancy

man’, only to discover he’s from British Gas, confirming his identity by

the personal password scheme.



Both commercials were directed through Limelight by John Lloyd, who is

best known for his Phileas Fogg (Bartle Bogle Hegarty) and Barclaycard

(BMP DDB Needham) commercials, as well as the television series,

Blackadder.



The ads were written by Paul Burke and art directed by Stuart Buckley.



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