Channel the frustration – into energy savings

Client: Vectren

Vectren brought Shelton Group on board to build its brand. They wanted their million+ customers to like them – a lot – and they thought a new emphasis on their energy efficiency programs would help. We couldn’t agree more. We created a series of ads around the tagline “Avoid Bad Bill Reaction” that captured all the frustration and horror utility customers feel moments after opening the monthly bill. The premise? Vectren knows what its customers are feeling and wants to help them avoid the monthly shock. The campaign helped Vectren make quite an impact – energy savings jumped up, and so did Vectren’s J.D. Power score.

Client Challenge

Foster customer goodwill via energy efficiency programs – and a different approach to messaging that would overcome the tendency of customers everywhere to blame their utility for high bills.

Shelton Strategy

Instead of taking the usual utility tact (tell customers they’re lucky to have some of the lowest rates in the nation), we wondered what would happen if the utility admitted they know the problem – many of their customers get 12 unpleasant surprises a year – and then stepped up to help change things. Avoid Bad Bill Reaction was born.

Critical Tactics

  • Print Ads
  • Digital
  • Outdoor

The Payoff

The campaign drew customers in with a relatable scenario – plus a healthy dose of humor and transparency – that no one expected to see in a utility ad. Then it followed up with prescriptive steps to help them take control of energy costs. To pack even more power into the punch, we placed ads in family restaurant bathroom stalls, on grocery store carts and on gas station pump toppers to drive home the point that Vectren could help them help their budget.

By the end of the campaign, 68% of Vectren’s customers could recall a specific rebate program or tip unaided, and, more importantly, they took action and participated in rebate programs. The kicker: Vectren’s J.D. Power score jumped 25 points from #12 in the Midwest to #8 in just one year.

Suzanne Shelton

President and CEO

Suzanne is the voice and the vision of Shelton Group. Drawing on her extensive experience in energy and the environment – and 25+ years in the marketing and advertising industry – Suzanne provides high-level strategic insights for our clients and guidance for our research and creative departments. She regularly speaks at conferences around the country, including Sustainable Brands, Fortune Brainstorm E and the International Builders’ Show, and serves as a guest columnist for publications like Fast Company, Green Builder and

Susannah Enkema

VP Research & Insights

Susannah directs our research team and plays a key role in extracting the nuggets of information that pave the way for recommended marketing strategies and creative approaches. Susannah has nearly two decades of market research and strategy experience, including her role as president of SE Consulting, where she led the services for the likes of DIY Network and the makers of GORE-TEX®.

Matt Brass

VP Creative

Matt steers the creative department in concepting, designing and producing campaigns. He ensures sound strategy and deep insights inform everything his team develops, and works closely with the accounts department to ensure copy and designs will meet our clients’ goals. As a designer and filmmaker himself, he’s also a principal contributor to all of Shelton’s in-house photography and videography work.

Courtnay Hamachek

VP Operations

Courtnay oversees our day-to-day operations to keep us running smoothly and support our growth. She establishes project management systems and processes to help our teams anticipate bottlenecks, prevent process issues, and keep projects on time and on target. Courtnay has built extensive experience over 25 years in all aspects of marketing, from account services and project management to design and production.