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GAZ MÉTROPOLITAIN IS THE LARGEST and basically only supplier of natural gas in Quebec, but was seen as old and unimaginative. To make matters worse, natural gas frightened a great many residential consumers, who preferred electricity from Hydro Quebec. Nothing favoured Gaz Métropolitain as it prepared to expand beyond its industrial/commercial base, and move back into the residential market.

Research explored the issue, with negative results. People noticed Gaz Métropolitain only when an old-fashioned truck was repairing a potentially devastating leak. And one out of two adults had an uneasy fear of having gas in their home. The case starts in September 2003, and is based on the first six months of a total rebranding exercise. There were two broad objectives:

Modernize the image of the company, and alleviate the fear of natural gas.
Achieve sales goals. Namely, 10,000 new residential customers over the next three years, and 3,000 sales in the new housing market for the 12 months ending Sept 2004.

Modernizing the Image/Dealing with the Fear: There was a temptation to explain rationally that natural gas is a safe alternative to electricity. But fear of natural gas, like many fears, is not rational. So Gaz Métropolitain and Diesel decided to appeal to the emotions, and make a focal point of exactly what concerned people-the flame. This became an attractive, friendly, and accessible element in all promotional material

Achieving Sales Goals (The “and/or” Factor): When taking on a major competitor, it's important to assess their strength accurately. As a result, the team decided not to compete head on with Hydro-Québec, and positioned the choice to consumers not as “Hydro-Québec or Gaz Métro” but as “Hydro-Québec and Gaz Métro”. The “and” allowed the company to promote applications like the stove, water heater, fireplace, barbecue, swimming pool heater, dryer, and patio heater-all part of a relaxed, comfortable lifestyle.

The re-branding also involved a long list of other activities:

Changing the company name to Gaz Métro, with a new logo, a more modern/friendly look.
Developing the “life in blue” signature, signalling comfort, peacefulness, quiet and light.
Integrating all materials across all points of contact.
A full media program involving TV, newspapers, specialized magazines, billboards, direct marketing.
Internal marketing-in many ways a high point of the whole relaunch,

Awareness and image went up strongly [results supplied]. And a study by Léger Marketing found that Gaz Métro had jumped to first in reputation among energy companies, ahead of Hydro-Québec. Sales through the first six months are running 42% ahead of objectives for regular customers, and 30% ahead for new homes. Furthermore, the “life in blue” campaign won the Grand Prix Média 2004 award for the best media campaign in Quebec.

SOPHIE BROCHU, Vice-President, Customer and Gas Supplies
GUYLAINE LEHOUX, Director, Marketing and Commercial Support
VINCENT FORCIER, Manager, Internal Communications
STÉPHANIE TRUDEAU, Advisor, Public and Governmental Affairs
NATHALIE MAURER, Manager, Web and Marketing Communication
MANON QUINTIN, Senior Advisor, Web and Marketing Communication, Commercial Market
DIANE LAPOINTE, Senior Advisor, Web and Marketing Communication, Residential Market
SANDRA LACHAPELLE, Advisor, Marketing Communication, Commercial Market
ANN DUPONT, Senior Advisor, Web and Marketing Communication
NATHALIE BONDU, Advisor, Marketing Communication, Residential Market
MANON HÉBERT, Advisor, Marketing Communication, Commercial Market
GINETTE DESPATIE, Advisor, Merchandising, Residential Market
JULIE GARNEAU, Advisor, Public and Governmental Affairs

PHILIPPE MEUNIER, Creative Director
HÉLÈNE GODIN, Art Director
SANDRA BOURDEAU, Project Manager