The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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August 6, 2012

Gas industry advertising shifts toward issues



Range has scheduled an event to premier its new campaign this Thursday.

"Coal and steel defined the region, on their spinoff benefits," Range spokesman Matt Pitzarella said, and natural gas could do the same through increased use as a feedstock for petrochemicals plants, for instance.

The Summer Olympics provided an ideal time to start a campaign, before the public is inundated with election ads this fall, he said.

Range's baton ad and a spot with a patriotic theme are airing frequently now. Two others — one focused on the region's long manufacturing lull, and opportunity for change, and another with a message on energy independence — will follow. Pitzarella declined to specify what Range is spending on advertising.

Cecil-based Consol isn't running ads now, but is considering options for 2013, including doing more promotions in the growing Utica shale regions of Ohio, spokeswoman Lynn Seay said.

Surveys show familiarity with Consol's business has increased, although, "Our name is on the side of the Penguins arena, so the results were skewed a little," she said.

The coal and natural gas producer wasn't always a household name. Before its first "America's On Switch" ads six years ago, awareness of Consol in the region was around 20 percent, said Scott Morgan, president of advertising agency Brunner, but the Consol wanted to build its image in part to attract talented engineers and other workers.

Now, Consol is as well-known in the region as Wal-Mart and perception of the company is positive, Morgan said, adding that can affect Wall Street's view.

Energy companies often spend millions on image advertising, Morgan said, adding some market reports show API, Chevron and Range spent close to $1 million combined on TV advertising in the region through June this year.

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