NEWS: Severn Trent nears decision on agency for water campaign

Severn Trent, one of the water companies hit hardest by last summer’s drought, is looking for an agency to mount a campaign urging its customers to conserve supplies.

Severn Trent, one of the water companies hit hardest by last summer’s

drought, is looking for an agency to mount a campaign urging its

customers to conserve supplies.



A Severn Trent spokesman said he was unable to confirm reports that it

had asked three agencies to pitch for a TV-led initiative to remind

people to continue saving water throughout the winter.



Company executives are understood to have seen pitches earlier this

month and to be close to reaching a decision.



The campaign will be the first significant advertising undertaken by the

company since it appointed D’Arcy Masius Benton and Bowles four years

ago to mount its first consumer campaign following privatisation. The

spend then was around pounds 750,000.



Industry sources say the company is not looking for a one-off campaign

but for a long-term agency relationship. It wants to educate consumers

on what is likely to become the perpetual problem of water conservation.



The difficulty for Severn Trent, which is still enforcing a hosepipe and

sprinkler ban, is to convince people that saving water is still

important even after this winter’s heavy rainfalls.



Despite the downpours, the company claims its reservoirs are far from

full and that it is considering approaching Ofwat, the industry

regulator, about using meters as a means of regulating demand.



However, Severn Trent has faced savage criticism from Ofwat and the

National Rivers Authority for not doing enough to prevent shortages and

inconvenience to customers.



The attacks were fuelled in November when the company announced a 75 per

cent increase in pre-tax profits while admitting that up to a quarter of

its water is lost through leaks.



The company says it will spend pounds 125 million to reduce the leak

problem.



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