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    Propane Education & Research Council Launches $5.8 Million National Consumer Education Campaign

    Council Creates TV and Print Advertisements for use by Propane Retailers, State Organizations

     

    February 1, 2001


    Washington, DC - With unanimous approval by the Propane Education & Research Council (the Council), the propane industry is launching a multi-faceted consumer education program, which includes a nationwide television and print advertising campaign and a targeted trade advertising and outreach effort.

    While the public relations portion of the program builds on the previous year's initiatives, that component is also enhanced with new strategies for 2001, including increased participation in trade shows, national promotions, and an expanded Web site.

    National Advertising Campaign: Television, Print Ads Target Home Buyers In July 2000, the Council test marketed consumer advertising in Dothan, AL, and Gainesville, FL, to ensure the messages and executions were on target, memorable and would lead to increased awareness and favorability toward propane. The success in these two test markets, as measured by consumer pre- and post-advertising surveys conducted by Wirthlin Worldwide, paved the way for the Council's unanimous approval.

    The consumer-advertising campaign, which runs March through July, will use both targeted national cable programming and networks and targeted consumer magazines to convey propane's attributes of reliability, efficiency, safety and environmental friendliness. The print campaign will launch in the March issues of Small Home Design, Country Living Dream Homes, House Beautiful Home Building, and Women's Day Favorite Home Plans. Two print ads will be rotated in these and 17 additional consumer magazines.

    The television advertising will also launch in March on cable and satellite systems nationwide with the 30-second TV spot that was successfully tested in 2000. It features a house-sitter who learns about the comfort, safety and security of using propane and decides she doesn't want to leave when the homeowners return. This ad will air on The Learning Channel, Do-It-Yourself Network, and Home and Garden Television as well as special interest programs like Your New House, House Savvy, and Bob Vila's Home Again.

    "The key to our media selections is the targeting of a lifestyle. We will be reaching consumers when they are the most receptive to our message undefined when they are in the home-buying, home-building, or remodeling state of mind," said Council Vice President of Communications Kate Caskin. "The campaign is focused on reaching first-time, second-time, and vacation home-buyers with the many ways propane can help improve their quality of life throughout the year," added Caskin.

    Trade Campaign; Print Ads Target Key Trades The print trade advertising campaign targets homebuilders, forklift operators/owners, fleet owners/operators, and farmers. It launched with the January/February issues of several trade publications - Custom Home, MH/RV Builder, Warehousing Management, and Implement & Tractor. The Council has developed separate ads for each trade segment, and the ads will run throughout the year in a total of 13 trade publications, ending in October 2001.

    Advertisements Available for Local Use An equally important component of the national program is a plan to work with propane marketers and state organizations on the placement of television and print advertisements at the state and local levels. The Council is creating an advertising kit for distribution to industry members. The kit, to be distributed in early March, will include the consumer and print advertisements (in various sizes) as well as a VHS copy of the TV ad. The package will also include instructions on how a propane retailer or state organization can use the materials locally in a way that complements the national campaign.

    Contact the Council: 1-888-963-7372 (PERC) Industry members interested in receiving the Propane. Exceptional Energy advertising kit can call the Council toll-free to request these materials.

    Program Evaluation The Council's advertising and public relations initiatives will be evaluated to determine their success. In January, Wirthlin conducted a tracking study to establish baseline awareness levels among homeowners as well as the four key trade audiences. A post-assessment will be completed later in the year to measure increases in awareness among each group.

    "I am confident that the initiatives contained in our consumer education plan will help us reach consumers around the country with the many reasons propane can help make their lives more comfortable when used year-round," said Propane Council Chairman Daryl McClendon, president, Platinum Propane, Hinsdale, IL. "In order to achieve our goals, we will have to sustain a united effort over time. Changes in consumer awareness of propane will not happen overnight."

    The Propane Education & Research Council was authorized by the U.S. Congress with the passage of the Public Law 104-284, the Propane Education and Research Act (PERA), signed into law on October 11, 1996. The mission of the Council is to promote the safe, efficient use of odorized propane gas as a preferred energy source through investments in research, safety, and consumer education initiatives. For more information about the Council, please call 202-452-8975 or visit the Web site at www.propanecouncil.org.