Industry to launch ad campaign in bid to end scant awareness of market opening

Open Water and the water industry have collaborated on a digital advertising campaign, to be launched on Monday, which is designed to raise business customer awareness of retail market opening. This is on the back of an Ofwat-commissioned study published yesterday which found c70% of business customers are oblivious to the prospect of switching from April .

Wholesale water companies will foot the £325,000 campaign bill, which has been shared out according to the proportion of non household customers each company starts with.

The campaign will deploy digital adverts such as banners on websites customers regularly frequent. The target market is principally at SMEs – in particular, those that use a relatively large amount of water. Water UK head of corporate affairs Neil Dhot dubbed the target group at the campaign briefing yesterday as “hairdressers and horticulturalists”. The content, look and messaging has been developed jointly by Open Water partners Ofwat, Defra and MOSL, companies represented by Water UK, and communications agency Corporate Culture.

The campaign will run up to 1 April and will direct customers to the Open Water website to engage further with the market. Ofwat’s lead on RMO communications Helen Robinson Gordon stressed this route offered “independent and impartial advice and guidance”.

Open Water had previously indicated it would leave it to water companies to do the bulk of awareness raising and seems to have stepped in due to persistent low awareness levels with just ten weeks to go until market opening. Ofwat chief executive Cathryn Ross did not accept campaigning had been left too late, saying now was “the right time”.