BC Hydro taps Taxi, moves toward more digital communication

A big shift for a major BC client

BC Hydro has empowered a new agency to create and spread its safety and conservation messaging across Canada’s most western province.

Taxi Vancouver has been chosen as the Crown corporation’s new agency of record for the next three years, alongside partners Media Experts and Smak (which has experience working on the brand).

BC Hydro serves about 1.9 million customers across B.C. Its media spend last year was $4.9 million, and traditionally ranges between about $5 and $6 million, said BC Hydro’s director of communications and public affairs, Steve Vanagas. That includes advertising for all Power Smart programs, safety communications, outage and storm season preparedness, and customer care communications.

“This is one of the most significant pieces of business in our market,” Taxi co-managing director Ben Tarr said in a statement after the deal was signed on June 25.

Jack Dayan, another co-managing director, said the AOR’s mandate covers a wide range of work. “Given the abundance of advertising noise that exists at any given time in the marketing environment, Taxi will play a big role in finding effective, efficient ways to deliver these messages,” said Dayan.

He said Taxi will create a number of campaigns that will emerge throughout the year, using a range of traditional and social media, but could not yet provide specific details.

Taxi and its team were picked after the utility put its advertising and marketing contract into review. Taxi’s bid beat out one from DDB Canada, which had been BC Hydro’s award-winning AOR for the past eight years.

Vanagas said Taxi was chosen because it “provided a compelling vision for the BC Hydro brand… The contract with [DDB] was expiring and we felt this was a good opportunity to take a fresh look at how we are getting information out to our customers.”

He said Taxi will help the utility deliver a number of campaigns. In particular, BC Hydro wants to increase its digital presence and “ensure we are using our social media and online properties effectively,” Vanagas said.

“Electricity use is very reliable in B.C. so it’s not always top-of-mind for people. That’s why we need to be even more creative in making sure we reach out to customers with the information they need, where and when they need it,” he said.

Lance Saunders, executive vice-president and managing director at DDB Canada, said his firm will continue to work with BC Hydro on digital projects.

“We are very proud of the work we created together [with BC Hydro] over the last eight years,” said Saunders in an interview. “We look forward to continuing our relationship with them for digital assignments.”

DDB Canada first became BC Hydro’s marketing communications partner when it was named AOR in 2006. It renewed its contract in March 2010 for a three-year term.

The most recent YouTube post from BC Hydro

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