Consolidated Natural Gas Company (CNG, now part of Dominion Energy Resources) wanted to promote the use of natural gas as an alternative fuel for cars, trucks, vans and buses. Natural gas releases far fewer pollutants into the atmosphere, making it an environmentally friendly fuel, and vehicles converted to natural gas are less expensive to maintain. CNG had two target audiences in its service area, which included areas in the northeast, south and midwest where it sold natural gas or had pipeline operations:
- The general public: By raising awareness of natural gas as a vehicular fuel, the company wanted to show it was environmentally conscious while influencing people to use clean-burning natural gas for cooking, heating and other uses.
- Fleet owners: Organizations such as corporations or universities that operated large fleets of vehicles were ideal for conversion to natural gas because they could afford to install fueling stations at their garages and depots.
We identified a CNG employee who was a long-time drag racer and had been tinkering with natural gas conversion of his drag car in his spare time. CNG provided the funds for the employee, Joe Mezquita, to complete conversion, then allowed him to dedicate his life to racing the car, called “The Natural Gasser,” on the drag racing circuit. We developed a media tour to follow Mezquita wherever he went to get coverage in local and national news media. During the more than two years of the campaign, Mezquita raced “The Natural Gasser” in more than 30 major events throughout the CNG service area, climbing into the Top 10 of drag racers nationally. We attracted more than 250 stories in local and national print and broadcast news media, including The Wall Street Journal, Business Week, Popular Science, Popular Mechan-ics, Industry Week, CNN, CNN Headline News and New York Times.
For the fleet market, we helped to develop a number of collateral pieces that the CNG marketing staff could use at trade shows and in direct marketing efforts to fleet operators. Most noteworthy was a 10-minute video that we produced to look like an extended music video using an original country-and-western song we wrote called “Make the gas in your car natural gas.” The video focused on a bus company, corporation, individual and university already using natural gas powered cars. In addition, we helped to organize and publicized a natural gas vehicle show that took place at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh, which attracted extensive media coverage and was well attended by both fleet operators and the general public.
CNG was very pleased with the results of the program, which not only helped CNG market natural gas powered vehicles, but also enhanced CNG’s already stellar reputation in its service area and with the financial community.