First Utility


First Utility is an independent energy supplier that launched in September 2008 with the proposition of innovating and offering customers a new form of energy provision – accurate billing as well as visibility of energy usage.

Brief to CubanEight

Challenger energy firm First Utility wanted to launch a new energy tariff. As opposed to their previous tariffs, which were aimed at house builders and developers, this was to be the company’s first ‘mass market’ tariff, available across the UK.

Campaign strategy

To establish First Utility as the leading independent energy supplier, challenging the established ‘Big Six’ players in the industry

To position First Utility as a real alternative for people looking to get a better energy deal

Tactics / activity

Having brainstormed the approach, we decided to propose a different and more innovative idea to that proposed by the client (in essence a standard ‘new tariff’ announcement). We counselled First Utility to change the positioning of the announcement to focus on the fact that this was a brand new energy offering in a stale and uncompetitive marketplace (six large players have dominated for many years).

The launch came at a time when energy was high on the news agenda, and the launch day saw the CEO interview on the BBC, Sky News, BBC Radio and in most of the main national newspapers. The positioning was as planned, that a brand new energy firm was launching in the UK and people should consider it as an alternative to the dominant players.

Campaign outcomes

Throughout the First Utility campaign, a series of important business objectives have been met as a direct result of PR activity and the ensuring media coverage. These included First Utility…

  • Successfully achieving its customer acquisition targets to become the largest of all energy suppliers outside of the ‘Big Six’ suppliers
  • Owning the (crowded) smart meter space – First Utility is now the second result on Google for the term ‘smart meters’
  • Influencing regulator Ofgem to raise the threshold number of customers at which expensive environmental measures took effect, would detrimentally affect First Utility’s growth potential
  • Positioned as the UK’s challenger energy firm, taking on the ‘Big Six’ giants (British Gas, npower, EDF etc.) that currently dominate the energy landscape.
  • A 2382% increase in new sign-ups for energy tariffs in October 2011 compared to the average of the previous 6 months.

We acknowledge the limitations of equivalent advertising value (EAV) as a measurement tool, but this is a tool First Utility uses as a partial measure of return on investment. Total EAV in 2010 was £588,612, compared to a PR spend of c. £54,000. Key message penetration was very high at 97% across all cuttings carrying at least one or more key messages.