Media: The selling power of nature's gifts

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The Independent Online
The advertising campaign for the second stage of the Government's PowerGen and National Power sell-off is a privatisation campaign in true Nineties style.

Images of volcanoes, lightning and tidal waves have substituted the quirky, character-led privatisation ads of the Eighties, typified by Mel Smith's bumbling Inspector Morose for BT3, Frankenstein's monster for the first phase of the National Power/PowerGen sell-off, and Sid for British Gas.

Gimmickry, says WCRS, the ad agency behind the latest campaign, has been replaced by plain speaking. The natural phenomena, taken from the feature film Baraka, emphasise the strapline: "You are about to experience an impressive release of power." Unlike earlier privatisation, a larger proportion of the estimated £10m budget has gone in press and poster ads. The reason? The public's changed perception of privatisation. It's accepted that people know what they are about.

"Market conditions have shifted," says Ron Hanlon, project leader for the PowerGen and National Power account at WCRS.

It is also less appropriate to talk about money matters in a jokey manner.

The strategy has not been without its detractors. It has been attacked by the green lobby, which say the use of nature implies an environmental awareness the power generators lack.