The Wire

Energy news from Omaha Public Power District

The Wire

Energy news from Omaha Public Power District

Flashback

OPPD was an early promoter of the “all-electric life”

May 13, 2019 | Laura King-Homan | flashback, history
FLBK_Electric living_lamp counter

Not so long ago, a home filled with electric appliances was the exception to the rule.

Just 60 years ago, a basic electric appliance was still new enough to be considered a modern marvel of technology and a sign of prosperity and progress. To that end, OPPD went out into the community to market the new electric products available and demonstrate how much easier life could be with them.

Special campaign

The “go all-electric” campaign promoted electric living as a “clean, smart, safe, efficient, economical, dependable and modern lifestyle.” It was designed to appeal to customers’ desire to be part of the “in crowd.” One ad from the 1950s campaigns read: “Go Modern – Go Electric.”

This 1938 photo shows the merchandise on display at the Nebraska Power (precursor to OPPD) Electric Building downtown. Although the utility didn't sell the items, they continued to display them in this "electric shop," encouraging customers to buy from local dealers. OPPD archive photo.
This 1938 photo shows the merchandise on display at the Nebraska Power (precursor to OPPD) Electric Building downtown. Although the utility didn’t sell the items, they continued to display them in this “electric shop.” OPPD archive photo

OPPD spread the word through print ads, bus signs and billboards that featured bouncy, breezy and charmingly corny pitches. Many of the old ads targeted women of the households, emphasizing how much easier their lives would be with electric conveniences. Products that made the biggest stir with customers were the microwave oven and garage door opener.

Early promotional efforts also included a weekly dramatic radio show, “Favorite Story,” on KOIL. Personnel also offered tours of model electric homes, appliance demonstrations, and cooking classes in an all-electric kitchens.

The utility brought sophisticated lighting schemes and other more advanced electrical applications to trade and industry exhibitions. The OPPD House of Light drew 24,000 visitors during the 1949 Midwest Home Show.

But it wasn’t just electrification OPPD was touting, it was also the appliances that used it. OPPD worked with appliance distributors, dealers and contractors to help sell appliances. The utility even displayed the latest lines in its Electric Shop showroom.

The latest electric appliances shine in a display window at OPPD's downtown headquarters. At the time, the utility displayed items for area dealers. OPPD archive photo
The latest electric appliances shine in a display window at OPPD’s downtown headquarters. At the time, the utility displayed items for area dealers. OPPD archive photo
The "Electric Shop" at OPPD's downtown headquarters shines onto the street outside. The shop featured the newest electric appliances for sale at area dealers. OPPD archive photo
The “Electric Shop” at OPPD’s downtown headquarters shines onto the street outside. The shop featured the newest electric appliances for sale at area dealers. OPPD archive photo

 

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About Laura King-Homan

Laura King-Homan is the managing editor of The Wire and a brand journalism strategist at Omaha Public Power District. She has nearly 20 years of print journalism and design experience, including the Omaha World-Herald.

View all posts by Laura King-Homan >

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