Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Xcel Energy: Burning the ad budget to keep my ass warm

When the opponents of Xcel Energy’s proposed gas rate hike packed the meeting of the public utilities commission awhile back, many questions were asked as to why Xcel was yet again raising its rates. But no one asked the obvious question: if there is a product that everyone uses and typically can’t live without, why does the company need to advertise?

For those who don’t know or those who live in unheated hovels, Xcel Energy is the huge energy company that provides heat and electricity to Colorado, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, and Wisconsin. That’s only 10 states and 3.3 million customers. The poor guys, they must not make any money at all! I can see why they need to advertise.

Listen to any Avalanche game on AM 950 the Fan, and you’ll hear an Xcel Energy ad during every break. Does oxygen (the element, not the fine Women’s cable channel) need to advertise? Everyone uses it. We can’t live without it, yet there are no expensive TV and radio spots telling you all about the benefits of that particular product.

Xcel sponsors an elaborate light show at Avalanche games as well. Can the company justify a rate hike when it’s burning its logo into the retina of everyone in attendance? When you’ve just spent $50 on a ticket and another $50 buying a couple of beers, do you really want to reminded in a blinding flash that you’ve got an outrageous heating bill waiting at home for you? The only thing worse would be if the IRS sponsored an overwrought and ear splitting halftime show at a Colorado Crush game.

So why does Xcel have to advertise? Everyone uses their products, and right now, it might just be impossible to not use their service without freezing your nipples off. No one cares how or why the highwaymen of the natural gas game are making your life better; just don’t charge us anymore for telling the world about it in the commercials. Eliminating the ad budget of Xcel Energy could help reduce the cost of warming your butt cheeks. And it will help me to afford $10 beers at the hockey game as well.


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