Shortlisted 2018




Lead Agency



The Challenge

As a company with more than 100 years of history and heritage, Shell is a globally recognized brand – a known provider of oil and gas to the world. Even though this is still part of the core of their business, Shell is working to address the misconception that they are only a traditional oil company. The Shell #makethefuture campaign looks to shift perceptions of the company as they aim to positively influence lives by helping to provide the world with more
and cleaner energy solutions.

The bright energy initiatives that Shell supports help communities access cleaner and more sustainable ways to provide energy to a growing global population. Shell wanted to find a partner to help showcase their commitment to future generations and sustainable energy, as well as educate the audience on how we could all make a difference to #makethefuture.

The campaign looked to answer three main questions:
1) How can we tap into the synergy that exists between the Shell & National Geographic brands to connect with millennials and showcase the sustainable energy projects that are helping communities around the world?
2) How can we educate our audiences to get involved themselves and contribute on an every-day level to reduce carbon emissions/use less energy/use more renewable energy?
3) As a subject that is both core to the advertiser as well as the media owner, how can we ensure the best, most relevant reach and engagement in the target markets, but also give a partnership a new, interesting angle?

The Strategy

Together, Shell and National Geographic partnered on the launch of a global campaign – MAKING THE FUTURE, delivering rich and engaging storytelling around Shell backed sustainable energy projects, amplified through
National Geographic’s TV, digital, and extensive social platforms to spark conversation with the millennial audience and encourage them to contribute to a sustainable future.

Through a 3 part documentary series called “Positive Energy”, Shell and National Geographic’s strategy to engage the future generation was to take them on a quest to visit some of the most spectacular and ingenious eco-builds on the planet. This global odyssey combined spectacle and adventure with real insight into the shifting relationship between the human race and its fuel. Every single one of these energy masterpiece projects is bringing power to the
people in a completely new way. They’re not just sustainable, they’re game changers.

At the core of our strategy for this campaign was that we did not just want to tell the story of sustainability. We wanted to BE more sustainable.
We set ourselves a challenge from the onset; to demonstrate our commitment to energy, we wanted to show the footprint generated by producing a documentary with full transparency. We powered our equipment with as many
off-grid sources as possible. Using solar power to charge our equipment, staying in the most environmentally friendly accommodation, travelling via hybrid, solar or electric vehicles and using some of the technology featured
such as Pavegen, Gravity Light and Bio-Bean to produce energy to make our storytelling possible.

Using an array of influencers within the documentary, we showed our millennial audience that they can get involved in leading a more sustainable life just like people they already looked up to and engaged with. These influencers focused not on the wider vision for a more sustainable energy future, but also on the small changes they’re trying to make in their own lives for a brighter tomorrow.

Akon: The US/Senegalese rap megastar, his mission is to change the lives of the 600 million Africans who still live without electricity today via his initiative Akon Lighting Africa.

Karrueche Tran: An American model and actress leading environmental conservation and educational programs, providing urban schools children with learning opportunities around nutrition, health and sustainability.

Derek Muller: YouTube superstar, is the go to guy for the simplification and demystification of science on YouTube.

The Implementation

Each of the three episodes of the documentary were aired in a prime time premier slot on National Geographic Channel in Shell’s target markets with two repeat airings during day or fringe time premier slots in each market.
Each episode was also cross-promoted through 30 second tagged trailers airing across the Fox Network’s TV portfolio and was slotted into the TV schedule site sitting on where the audience could click onto the slot and find more information about the program. Please see here for example: .

As the number 1 brand on social media with more than 350 million followers globally, National Geographic wanted to make sure we captured our social audiences to share these important stories. We posted 60 second video insight
pieces on Facebook and Twitter with airdates and times, calling our audiences to switch on their TV and view each of the 3 episodes of the documentary. Please see here for an example: . As one of the 12 launch partners of Snapchat, National Geographic was also able to include daily takeovers and strategic 10 second and 60 second video
placements asking our millennials to get involved in “Making the Future” and learn more about the small changes they can make in their lives to be more sustainable.

Digitally, we produced three educational sponsored articles on to raise awareness of our three favourite Shell-supported energy startups – bio-bean, Gravity Light and Insolar. Each article gives great insight into
the founders of these 3 innovations, insights behind the business, and details of how these projects have helped local communities. Please see here for an example: . In order to drive traffic to these articles, National Geographic produced 3 sets of co-branded banner suites which were placed around closely aligned content pages
within the universe, such as Environment, Science and News.

The Result

National Geographic founders like Alexander Graham Bell understood that great storytelling could spark curiosity, help solve big problems, and push the boundaries of what we already know. This is exactly what we intended with
this campaign and what we ultimately achieved.

With our smart entertainment content making up this campaign we reached nearly 70 million people globally across all chosen platforms:

  • Our documentary and TV campaign was seen by 36 million people in Shell’s target markets Our digital campaign reached an additional 20 million people
  • Social posts via National Geographic channels were seen and engaged with by 12 million people Our Snapchat Video completion rate was 23%, 400% higher than the average benchmark
  • The sponsored articles on had up to a 3 minutes 19 seconds dwell time, 80% higher than the average benchmark
  • More than 32k likes and shares on Facebook

Our results were twofold: not only did our media entertain and enable a huge global audience, we also succeeded in reducing our carbon footprint and creating a more sustainable series. Every leg of the way our team measured how much energy they were using and tried to reduce their consumption as much as possible. At the end of each episode our hosts helped to create a legacy energy installation that would produce renewable energy for a
community they’d visited, offsetting the energy they used. Our hosts Dallas Campbell and Kari Byron created a wind turbine in Scotland, as well as bio-digesters in China and Brazil.

Every one of our assets and stories across the campaign entertained and enabled our audience. It allowed the audience to better understand the need for cleaner energy, the bright energy innovations that can help us meet
those needs, and the commitment Shell has to #makethefuture.