Brainfood: Slogan Doctor British Gas - Doing the right thing

British Gas has had a number of slogans, some of them - 'Don't you just love being in control' - quite memorable. 'Doing the right thing' was, the firm insists, generated by its own staff, who clearly have no problems with self-esteem. But it took an advertising agency, Clemmow Hornby Inge, to extract the line from research after winning the Centrica subsidiary's account in 2003. The problem for any utility is that it's selling a commodity.

by John Morrish

British Gas' hydrocarbons (or, indeed, its electricity) are no different from anyone else's - hence an emphasis on its service arm, which now offers to maintain everything from drains to kitchen appliances. 'Doing the right thing', it says, is not so much a slogan as a 'strategic vision'. It's a moral claim: British Gas is better because it has a conscience. When the gasman muddies your Axminster, this may seem less plausible. Making moral claims is best left to organisations with a moral function: the police, volunteer groups and the Brownies.

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