See how NRG Home and Reliant used human insight to refine their company mascot and revise ad campaigns before publishing them
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About the company
NRG Energy, Inc. is an American energy company, headquartered in Houston, Texas. NRG serves over 7 million retail customers in 24 US states. An NRG subsidiary, Reliant is one of the largest Texas electricity providers. Reliant serves over 1.5 million Texans.
Company Size: GlobalRole: ExecutivesCustomer Type: B2C or D2CRegion: North America
Higher performance of the Agent Hugo ad than the ad from Reliant’s competition
Key insights discovered for Reliant’s marketing and advertising programs
Refinement of the Hugo mascot, who customers and the public now associate with Reliant
NRG’s advertising teams work hard to attract new customers through compelling messaging across TV, radio, billboards, and digital media. But their brand, Reliant, needed to add an extra edge to their campaigns. In order to implement a bolder advertising strategy, they needed a way to anticipate customer perceptions before they would take the messaging live.
Karen Harvie, NRG’s Director of Consumer Insights, explains why they chose UserTesting. “We were hoping for rich and actionable feedback from consumers related to ad performance, including main message takeaway, brand linkage, appeal, likeability, interest, relevancy, motivational ability, and identification of any potential red flags. We also wanted to understand how consumers reacted to key competitor advertising, to help us understand the strengths and weaknesses of competitors’ approaches.”
One critical area where UserTesting helped Reliant involved the creation of their popular mascot, Hugo. Test participants liked the idea of Hugo and his Texan heritage as an armadillo, but they found his early designs to be a little too lifelike.
Pam Roper, Senior Manager, Consumer Insights at NRG Home, says, “We did some preliminary research within UserTesting, exposing test participants to an early rendering of Hugo. They suggested that he could be a little less realistic and more cartoonish (with larger eyes). With the help of our creative teams, that made him more adorable–and more approachable.”
Reliant also refined one of their most effective ads to date using feedback from UserTesting. Their “Agent Hugo” ad, which features Hugo as a secret agent wearing a tuxedo, made special offers of energy packages to customers. When Reliant evaluated an initial version, they found that test participants struggled to follow the storyline and understand the offers. This led to critical editing decisions that improved results.
Eleana Johnson, Director, Reliant Brand Advertising at NRG Home, explains the results. “This feedback helped our teams to make refinements before launch. The Agent Hugo ad then went on to score 19% higher than the ad we tested from our competitor.”
I'll actually never forget the first time I was able to participate in a customer interview with UserTesting. It really illuminated what customers feel, what their needs are, what their pain points are.
Elizabeth Killinger President, Reliant and NRG Home
Analyzing human Insight helps us understand what's important to our customers and what resonates with them in our advertising and marketing materials.
Suzie Dieth Chief Experience Officer, NRG Home
Testing often and testing early with UserTesting helps us avoid big and costly mistakes.
Karen Harvie Director of Consumer Insights, NRG Home
Our work with UserTesting gives a voice to the consumer so that people can hear directly from them what they are saying about the ad or the product or service. Oftentimes in meetings, people cite video clips from a year or two earlier where they still remember what people said.
Pam Roper Senior Manager, Consumer Insights at NRG Home