Shortlisted 2016

Corporate Brand Promotion



Lead Agency



The Challenge

In 2015, Shell looked to create favourability, familiarity and advocacy with a newly defined target audience: Energy Engaged Millennials, particularly ages 25 – 34, who are interested in what “makes the world tick”. They think of themselves as “global citizens”: people with a world view, who are connected
to a wide array of perspectives via social media/internet.

The overarching goal of Shell’s campaign was to change the perception of the company from a traditional oil company of yesterday, to a modern, innovative energy company that feels like part of today and tomorrow. They sought to change the relationship millennials have with Shell, from a company that is seen as having little of interest to say to them, to a voice that they welcome into their world.

Shell sought a content partner to help bring together the stories that sit within their “Let’s Go” and #makethefuture campaigns so that Shell talks to their EEM target audience in a cohesive, coherent but compelling way. The partner was tasked to position Shell as playing an active part in creating a ‘sustainable’ energy future, and help showcase Shell as an active investor and supporter of “bright ideas” around energy provision for the future.

With a newly defined audience, Shell sought to reset the existing Great Energy Challenge partnership (GEC), which for over 5 years targeted thought leaders, experts, and consumers who already had high interest in the global discussion around energy. In 2015 the GEC partnership was pulled apart and reconfigured with the new target audience in mind.

The Strategy

National Geographic adopted a multi-faceted strategic approach designed specifically to target and communicate with the millennial audience and reset the partnership that had been running for 5 years.

A series of custom videos was planned to profile National Geographic and Shell energy grantees from around the world. These were designed to demonstrate personal and individual stories on the impact of grass roots energy innovations which research had indicated was the optimal way to engage with the
millennial audience.

The Great Energy Challenge digital section on was also reset. A refreshed, modern and clean redesign, a mix of mobile-optimized news and information was introduced and amplified with snack-able, sharable, content strands written by expert editors. This redesign was also aimed to
ensure National Geographic’s energy content in partnership with Shell became highly sociable and shareable.

In addition, National Geographic and Shell launched three Energy-Themed photography assignments promoted to 675,000 millennial and highly engaged photography enthusiasts via National Geographic’s Your Shot platform on

Media activation to support the strategy was developed with the millennial audience solely in mind and enabled Shell to activate a highly efficient campaign across multiple platforms.

Partnership support was provided for Shell’s #makethefuture Accelerator Brazil event in Rio de Janiero with participation by National Geographic’s Grantee Director as a keynote speaker and the creation of a custom sponsored article and video.

The Implementation

Shell worked with NG Studios—an Emmy Award winning team—to develop a series of videos focusing on the bright ideas of six Great Energy Challenge grantees. The videos were branded Great Energy Challenge with a call to action
to #makethefuture. The strategic series was built with a solutions-driven narrative to create an emotional appeal. A new video carousal was added to the GEC home page to showcase the series. The videos were adapted for social
use, and packaged for Shell to deliver via social streams, on the website and licensed for commercial broadcast usage to further engage and inform the target audience.

The series was adapted for a custom print campaign aligning with the bright ideas messaging that took the form of single pages, spreads and a 4-page anthem piece. The campaign was visually driven and filled with bold
photography, creating an all-embracing, inclusive look and feel that the target audience could relate to and envisage as having relevance to their world.
Community engagement continued with the activation of the three National Geographic Your Shot assignments. The first assignment challenged members to picture their World Without Energy, the second assignment focused on
Bright Ideas in Action, while the third assignment asked members to capture Future Cities and energy ideas currently being utilized in their city. Monica C. Corcoran, an award-winning photography and director of the Your Shot photo
community, curated all Assignments.

A revised media plan upweighted digital activity and introduced native placement of Shell’s own video content.

SnapChat was also introduced with four days of take overs of NG’s Discover channel on SC. TV was down weighted slightly but used to distribute broadcast versions of the Energy Grantee videos and print was used to deliver long
form and immersive story telling around the energy grantees targeted specifically at NG’s younger audiences.

All of the custom media and engagement opportunities were set against the backdrop of a refreshed Great Energy Challenge site, featuring a daily stream of energy stories and quick, accessible content providing context for National
Geographic’s inspirational story telling. New forms of content include “Energy Snapshots” that explain interesting, counter intuitive, or even surprising energy facts, “Lit Up” which is a special series where GEC grantees describe, in
their own words, what inspires them to tackle energy poverty and Photo Galleries which tell stories the Nat Geo way —with pictures.

The Result

The GEC digital platform generated over 5.5 million page views and over 1 million social interactions—a 35% increase in page views and 167% increase in social interactions year over year.

The Innovator video series received over 60,000 plays, and were promoted on National Geographic Facebook and Twitter accounts generating an additional 10,000 shares. The Custom Your Shot assignments were fully embraced by the member community, receiving over 15,000 submissions and generating over 1,000 discussion threads.

A robust media campaign on generated over 56 million total impressions. GEC content also ran adjacent to five Shell Daily Takeovers on Snapchat, generating over 6 million total views.

Shell continue to utilise all the assets from the partnership to populate their own #makethefuture website and communicate across their social media platforms, making this both a highly efficient campaign and one that enables Shell to demonstrate a partnership with a brand much loved by their target audience.