Taking BP Beyond Petroleum
Charting the future of public relations
Holmes Report
CEO

Taking BP Beyond Petroleum

Ogilvy PR counseled and implemented a grass roots, brand-centered approach to all communications in order to engage, enroll and transform BP employees during this massive organizational change initiative.

Paul Holmes

Following the 1999 merger of British Petroleum and Amoco, the combined company proceeded to acquire the Atlantic Richfield Corporation (Arco) and Burmah Castrol and launch a unifying global branding initiative, renaming the company BP. Ogilvy PR counseled and implemented a grass roots, brand-centered approach to all communications in order to engage, enroll and transform BP employees during this massive organizational change initiative.  The culmination of which was the new brand launch on July 25, previewed for employees only the previous day during a series of unifying events worldwide.

CHALLENGE/OPPORTUNITY

The re-branding entailed the introduction of a new visual identity and a new brand positioning, designed to help BP transcend the oil sector, deliver top-line growth and define the company as innovative, progressive, environmentally responsible and performance-driven.  Building the brand internally involved reaching out – culturally and logistically – to more than 100,000 employees in more than 100 countries. 

PR PROGRAM OBJECTIVES 

Build awareness, excitement and support among employees for the new brand and the four brand values – innovative, progressive, performance-driven and environmentally responsible.

Use the new brand to strengthen identity and common purpose among employees worldwide.

Engage employees in the brand development process.

Transform the organization from an old economy oil company to an innovative, progressive, environmentally responsible, performance-driven energy company that goes “beyond petroleum.”

RESEARCH

Competitive Analysis – provided insight about industry trends and the case for change 

Best Practice – analysis of internal processes at companies with leading brands

Employee Surveys – conducted monthly by GGC to gauge perceptions of current issues

PLANNING

The multi-discipline team – led by the Workplace Performance Group, Ogilvy PR’s internal communications specialty – included Ogilvy PR’s offices in New York, Chicago, DC, London, Singapore, Sydney and Bangkok, as well as Ogilvy & Mather, OgilvyOne, Landor Associates and GGC Research.

STRATEGY

Define an aspirational positioning for the company – the BP brand promise – and engage its employees through a cascaded, two-way communication process that involved them in the definition and execution of the new brand promise and used proof points to demonstrate the attainability of the strategic positioning.

Enroll “brand champions” to support the new brand promise and brand values, using viral marketing and grassroots efforts to foster the corporate transformation from within, giving credibility to change.

Position BP as a new type of energy company that confronts the difficult issues such as the conflict between energy and environmental needs and takes actions beyond what is expected of an oil company.

EXECUTION/TACTICS

Ogilvy PR developed an integrated communications plan designed to work with all BP business streams to introduce and build the new BP brand within the company. 

Definition:  Working with Ogilvy & Mather and BP’s Global Brand Team, Ogilvy PR helped develop an aspirational Brand Promise that set the company’s vision for the future.

Engagement:  We developed a series of tools to assist company leaders in talking with their staff and hosting interactive sessions to bring the brand to life:

Brand Story – a presentation that outlined the “case for change” and a vision of the new BP was developed for leaders to present in large and small groups;

Brand Speeches – for executives to deliver consistent messages about the meaning and importance of “brand” during internal events; 

Brand Engagement Toolkit – developed for senior level leadership to cascade messages to their staff, the toolkit contained: 

  • Key message and facilitation guides, Q&As, brand presentations;
  • CD-ROM with creative elements – sample advertisements, a scroll listing surprising facts about BP that demonstrated how the company was going “beyond petroleum,” and
  • Interactive exercises – including a gap analysis that helped identify activities inconsistent with the four core values and a business proposition framework that helped staff determine what the brand means to them.

Online Message Board/Chat Room – In Motion 

Promoted internally through a campaign that asked, “Are You In Motion?,” and distributed magnetic poetry, t-shirts, hackey sacks and notepads, all featuring the campaign slogan and In Motion URL.

A contest, based on company trivia, was launched to further drive traffic to the site. Postcards were sent to employees with contest details. Prizes included online gift certificates, watches, travel vouchers, MP3 players and Palm Pilots.

Enrollment:  Supporters of the brand initiative were enrolled in a grass roots effort to accelerate the pace of change. 

Brand Champions – a network of “high potential” young employees was established across the company to help execute engagement tactics and get employee feedback, while helping to tailor engagement strategies to particular geographies or lines of business. 

Transformation:  To begin the transformation process to one new global brand, BP and Ogilvy PR helped coordinate launch day activities to generate excitement and support for the future direction of the company:

Kits – distributed globally to all major facilities via Brand Champions, included posters and CD-ROMs with new logo and launch advertising; Brand Book – overview of what the brand means for employees; Brand Film (created by O&M); and Pens, hats, and other premiums with the new name and logo

CEO Satellite Broadcast – hosted by BP CEO Sir John Browne, the event was posted to BP’s Intranet. 

Leadership E-mails – sent to all employees from the CEO and by local business unit leaders.

Town Hall Meetings – Local offices gathered to view the CEO satellite broadcast and the brand film. Facilitation guides were developed enabling executives to highlight key brand messages and address employee questions.

Celebrations – held in BP locations worldwide, including an IMAX theater presentation in Australia, a dragon dance in Thailand and team-building exercises at the Cleveland Zoo.

OBSTACLES OVERCOME

Taking BP beyond petroleum involved the unique challenges of bridging business and cultural gaps between four different companies along with the logistical challenge of delivering materials and messages to more than 100 countries. 

The introduction of a new name and logo had the potential to alienate a majority of employees as emotional connections to old names and images were severed. 

As a company whose roots were firmly planted in the oil sector, BP needed to convince its people to think and act differently to deliver this new brand promise.  

The launch also came at a time of intense scrutiny and anger at oil companies over the price of gasoline in the U.S. and throughout Europe.

EVALUATION/MEASUREMENT OF SUCCESS

The brand contributed to a strong outlook across the entire workforce with 90% saying the company was going in the right direction in an employee survey conducted one month post-launch.  Results also showed that:  

  • 80% are aware of the four brand values,
  • 76% are favorable to the new brand, 
  • 77% believed it was credible for BP to go “beyond petroleum” and 
  • 67% attended launch day events,
  • 60% said that it makes them feel more like they are part of one unified company. 
The transformation process achieved a high level of excitement, engagement and acceptance among company employees and has resulted in considerable grass roots input and ideas for creating a new kind of company.
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