Iberdrola - Building A Green Energy Major
Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post
Iberdrola, the Spanish-headquartered energy company, was one of the first big energy companies to start the transition from fossil fuels 20 years ago. But outside of Spain awareness and understanding of Iberdrola’s leadership was low. FT reader research in 2018 ranked Iberdrola only 27th out of 33 energy companies for familiarity. Yet, among those who were familiar with the company, it was 5th for favourability.
This research set the challenge and opportunity – to tell Iberdrola’s energy leadership story to a wider audience to build both familiarity and favourability. Over the last four years Iberdrola started and built a paid partnership programme to complement its earned media corporate communications.
The audience was as international as Iberdrola’s business: investors, businesses, governments, NGOs and the wider energy-engaged public in the UK, US, Australia, Brazil, Mexico and across mainland Europe.
And the brief was urgent. The climate emergency makes the energy transition urgent, and as capital starts to head towards transition-driving businesses and sectors it was important that Iberdrola was seen a global leader not just another follower. We needed to build on the progress made over the first two years of the programme and go faster. Iberdrola doubled their budget from years 1 & 2 as we looked to accelerate.
Too many of our audience were still focused on the ‘energy majors’. Old oil and gas multinationals like Shell, Exxon, and BP and were waiting for them to make big, green moves. This made it hard for Iberdrola to get heard. So we created a new kind of energy major – the ‘Green Energy Major’ – and used our content partnerships to show that Iberdrola was a leading green energy major.
The Content Solution
We wanted to use content partnerships to tell the story of what a Green Energy Major looked like.
The choice of media partner was a key part of the strategy –to not only tell people we were a leader, we needed to act like a leader. We chose as partners leading Tier 1 media that were the leading titles for critical audiences:
The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.
While we’d worked with the FT and WSJ before the Washington Post was a new partner. They were chosen for the capabilities around content and because of the vital importance of the core Washington audience with the Biden administration’s focus on the energy transition, embodied in the huge Inflation Reduction Act.
Acting as a leader also affects how we communicated and built our content. It meant having the confidence to bring in third party voices, to talk about the challenges as well as the opportunities. It meant educating and informing about the whole story not just telling people about us. This was how we built the content with our publisher partners.
We built a global, Tier 1 media partnership plan to tell the Iberdrola story to critical international business leaders and influencers. These partnerships were all content partnerships – creating high quality, custom content with We partnered with:
• The Financial Times, sponsoring their Energy Source channel, so that our paid video content sat within the same channel are their editorial videos created by the Energy Source team. Our films covered the uneven progress of EVs in the US, the role of batteries in the energy grid transition and how solar power technology can protect wine makers from climate change. https://bit.ly/3ZNSxWy
• The Wall Street Journal, creating a series of four films, articles and promotions built around the theme of the Power Playbook – providing context, news and playbook. The topics covered offshore wind, green hydrogen, the digital transformation of energy grids and Smart grids. https://bit.ly/3d8c7KW
• The Washington Post, creating a series of beautiful, interactive articles explaining the need and solutions to critical parts of the energy challenge. The topics were fuelling change with offshore wind, Green hydrogen and the benefits of a green energy grid. https://wapo.st/3oo0XHQ
The Media/Content Amplification Solution
We worked with each publisher’s bespoke solutions to maximise the reach, impact and engagement with our content. Leveraging 1st party data, publisher hosting with activation across owned social media channels and Apple news.
Our Wall Street Journal content, hosted on a WSJ branded video player was amplified using the WSJ digital network using 1st party data to target a combination of senior business decision makers and sustainable energy, climate change and innovation targeting. We also used top of page strip creatives on the front page of the Business and finance section print edition – using a QR code to link to the content. Finally the content from the power playbook was adapted into full page custom format press ads to drive impact and link on to off-line.
The Financial Times content lived alongside editorial films on their Energy Source video channel, a new extension of the Energy Source editorial team. This gave us organic access to their growing audience which we augmented with strong amplification across owned and paid channels. Targeting was a mix of contextual and behavioural.
As a first time partner of The Washington Post, we introduced Iberdrola and primed the audience by using their Custom PostPulse Extended Unit – Continuum, a custom unit that showcased content produced with other publishers in previous years. We followed this work with amplification of the three interactive articles using their custom Zeus Insights targeting – using a mix of technology, innovation, environment, infrastructure and energy. In addition to the onsite promotion owned and paid social provided further traffic driving work.
All three partnerships exceeded their targets for the activity, exceeding publisher benchmarks along the way.
Individual content elements worked well, and critically the activity not only was seen and engaged with by more people than we’d targeted, most importantly it drove reputation.
We build custom brand uplift studies into all our paid partnerships, so that we can understand the reputational impact of our budget not just the delivery and behavioural performance.
• The Financial Times delivered 362,033 video views (355% of target) with and average view time of just over 2 minutes. The traffic drivers delivered 6,895,704 impressions with a CTR of 0.44%.
o +5 pts on favourability (ahead of BP, Total and Enel)
o +3 pts on “a leader in renewable energy”
o Among those exposed to the content:
+29% in “leader in renewable energy”
• +18% in “focus on sustainable energy solutions”The Wall Street Journal delivered 57, 585 Uniques, with 104,893 videos views and 0.34% CTR (3.38 x benchmark). The brand uplift study showed that those exposed to the content had strongly improved perceptions of Iberdrola:
o +22 pts “very favourable” view of Iberdrola
o +17pts is “is leading the world’s transition to clean energy”
• The Washington Post delivered 217,075 page views (133% over benchmark) from 119,830 Unique Visitors (76% over benchmark) and an average dwell time of over 2 minutes 30 seconds. Post exposure study showed:
o 32% of audience recalled seeing the advertising and/or content activity
o 47% strongly agree a “leader in renewable energy initiatives”
o 49% strongly agree a “has cutting edge technology”
Finally, the impact of the programme was so great that Iberdrola increased the budget for 2023 by 47%.