FirstEnergy Looks to Brighter Future With Branding Campaign

Posted on by Beth Negus Viveiros

The videos highlight the stories of FirstEnergy employees like Dewayne Edwards, who mentors the next generation of engineers.

An employee-focused campaign is helping electric utility FirstEnergy improve brand perception and engagement.

FirstEnergy has six million commercial and residential customers, from the Ohio/Indiana border to the Jersey shore, says Doug Colafella, director, communications and branding, FirstEnergy. The Akron, OH-based utility went through a major reorganization in 2018, after one of its business units went through a very public bankruptcy.

“That put our reputation at risk, so [we needed] to make sure the events of last year did not negatively impact our brand,” says Colafella. “We wanted to continue the positive perception of our company as we went through this transformation.”

Working with Mower, FirstEnergy launched the Brighter Future campaign, highlighting on the utility’s brand promise of delivering energy to the community. Customer research found that customers responded to a message of optimism and hope, so storytelling focused on how employees worked to put the customer first.

Traditional 30-second TV spots were created, as were longer form videos for social. Connected TV, paid social on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube; and programmatic were also part of the mix, as were native advertising, interstitials and page takeovers on sites like and “The campaign was really fully integrated,” says Stephanie Crockett, EVP and managing director of Mower.

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The first wave of the campaign ran from November 2018 to March 2019, with employee stories running across TV and digital channels. Videos drove viewers to a dedicated landing page on, where they could read and watch more about the featured individuals. The utility is in market now with a strictly digital campaign, and in August will begin filming more spots, which will launch in September.

An added benefit of the creative highlighting how the actions of employees keep power flowing to customers 24/7 is engaging the FirstEnergy team, notes Colafella.

“It’s for our culture to get employees excited about working at FirstEnergy,” he says. “We’re committed to building a workforce that embraces diversity and is inclusive of wide range of thoughts and ideas. We want a workforce that reflects communities we serve, both in urban and rural areas.”

This positive impact on employee morale—retention is up double digits—led FirstEnergy to introduce a LinkedIn component of the campaign this year, specifically targeting recruitment, adds Crockett.

In addition to positive brand perception, overall ROI for the Brighter Future creative is being tracked in a number of ways, including completed video views, website traffic and ad recall across TV, digital and social channels.


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