Kill Hank Hill

Last week several colleagues and I spent time with The Richards Group in Dallas planning propane’s new consumer education campaign. The Richards Group is an exceptional partner for the propane industry as we begin a new conversation with users and potential users of the fuel we call PROPANE Clean American Energy™.

In one of the firm’s famous stairwell meetings, Stan Richards introduced the propane folks to most of the 705 people who work there. They then challenged us to a true/false quiz on exotic forms of energy. Just in case it ever comes up, apparently there is a proposal to capture body heat from the London subway to heat nearby homes.

For an advertising agency, they are darn serious about their business but don’t take themselves too seriously. To them, it’s all about the customer, and great advertising is one of the many ways to engage them. There’s a motto on one of their planning documents that captures this distinct perspective. It reads:

“People don’t like advertising. People don’t trust advertising. People don’t remember advertising. How will we engage them?”

We should reflect on that as we prepare for this new campaign. It’s more than advertising. Success will take more than just action by PERC. We need to be serious about engaging consumers as never before. Our competitors certainly are.

At that stairwell meeting, I was asked to say a few words that would set the tone for the team as they began their work on the propane account. I was unusually brief.

I asked, “Who famously introduces himself adding ‘I sell propane and propane accessories?’”

In near unison hundreds of voices responded: “Hank Hill.”

“If you guys can make that image history,” I said, “then this new campaign will be a success.”

We can’t hope to be taken seriously when the most widely known “person” in our industry is a cartoon character. Seriously.  Beloved though he may be, it’s time to kill Hank Hill and that image. Our future is no laughing matter.

-RWW

To view the original blog entry by Roy Willis, CEO, Propane Education & Research Council, click here