Électricité de France and Promotional Objects: Communicating a Legacy

Communication Assets of Network Companies
By Yves Bouvier


The promotional objects distributed by EDF during advertising campaigns constitute a “small communicational heritage”. Seemingly insignificant, superficial and disposable, these small items nevertheless reflect the evolution of the relationship of the company to its customers. If practices were favoured in the messages written on these objects (increase of the power, electric heating), the sources of electricity production, and especially nuclear energy, are also widely represented. Indeed, these everyday gadgets also convey an image of the company, its missions, its values and its strategies. This explains why we notice, well in advance of the liberalisation of the energy sector, the replacement of the word ’electricity’ with the EDF brand. This was a way to establish a commercial relation not with a product but with a company. The promotional objects, as an expression of the links between EDF and its users and customers, actually outlast the advertising campaigns for which they were created. In particular, they are the material signs of an invisible energy which is widely assimilated with the company which supplies it.
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