By Joe Smyth | email@example.com | @joesmyth
Last month, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association began running its latest advertising campaign, which tells electric cooperatives they are "Better Together" with Tri-State.
But during one co-op board meeting, it became clear that Tri-State had not received permission to use the co-op's name and logo on the advertisements, and Mountain Parks Electric asked Tri-State to stop running ads that used the co-op's name.
The Tri-State “Better Together” ads are dramatized versions of a rhetorical device that Tri-State has used for years: conflating the contractual relationship between distribution cooperatives and a generation and transmission association, with the emotional qualities of a family bond.
For example, Tri-State press releases quote its CEO referring to “our cooperative family” at last year’s annual meeting. The catchphrase for Tri-State’s 2015 Annual Report was “One family, powered by many.” In a recent article, a former Tri-State executive characterized the Kit Carson Electric's decision to leave Tri-State as “part of a family discussion.”
Similarly, Tri-State’s “Better Together” ad campaign tells readers:
Our family of not-for-profit electric cooperative and public power districts, leverages our combined resources and knowledge- giving us the stability we need to succeed when it counts for you. By working together, we also have a stronger voice and are able to adapt to a changing marketplace.
The advertisement’s imagery take this a step further, showing photos of families and children sledding, playing football, and reading next to the names and logos of Tri-State and the local electric cooperatives that buy power from Tri-State.
The video advertisement goes even further, showing utility workers responding to a power outage alongside a story of parents introducing their newborn baby to their young daughter.
The "Better Together" themes of Tri-State's advertising campaign will also be a part of its annual meeting next week, according to the meeting schedule. At the same time, this year Tri-State moved to block the members of its "family" of co-ops from attending the Tri-State annual meeting.
At the annual meeting, member co-ops are expected to approve changes to Tri-State's bylaws.
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