Teaming up for the environment.
Silicon Valley is arguably one of the toughest regions in the country to launch a cause-related marketing campaign. Home to hundreds of technology companies, all pouring millions of dollars into building “green” campaigns, it takes a powerful, compelling story to create impact. Brocade is a leading provider of networked storage solutions. With products designed to consume less energy, sustainability and efficiency are at the heart of their brand identity. The company was taking all the “right” steps toward embracing green, but needed a tipping point - something to truly set the company apart.
The opportunity arrived in spring of 2007, when Mike Klayko, the CEO of Brocade, met Roz Savage, a petite environmentalist hoping to become the first woman in history to row solo across the Pacific Ocean. Klayko saw in Savage the embodiment of Brocade’s corporate philosophy. He shared her goal of wanting to build awareness for conservation and realized the tremendous potential of a partnership. He also saw parallels between Savage and his employees – tenacity, drive, perseverance and a commitment to success. The next day, Klayko informed his VP of Worldwide Marketing that Brocade would become Savage’s title sponsor. It was time for Ogilvy PR to go to work.
Most cause-related campaigns lack a natural connection for the sponsor. But in this case, Savage and Brocade were a perfect fit. One of our primary objectives was to clearly and consistently align the Brocade brand with attributes such as endurance, leadership and environmental awareness. We wanted to secure placements in the mainstream press that would drive exposure of Brocade’s corporate brand to business and enterprise technology audiences. We also wanted to harness the power of social media to inspire others to take on the challenge of protecting the environment.
A critical element to ensure Brocade received maximum brand exposure was the renaming of Savage’s boat to The Brocade. Ogilvy PR played a key role in pre-launch activities including: developing new decals and branding for her vessel, building the RozRowsBrocade.com website, working with vendors to create photography and b-roll, and preparing Savage with talking points and training to ensure she’d feel confident in front of the press. A strategic partnership with PodTech was also secured to help the story go viral.
Due to unpredictable weather and tidal conditions, Savage’s actual launch date could not be planned. To insure media direct access to Savage prior to her departure, we secured July 10 as the day for the ceremonial launch and press event. Photography and the b-roll were mass-distributed. We also secured “media boats” allowing journalists to accompany Savage out to sea during a practice row. Written speeches for Savage and Klayko were delivered during the event, which also included Savage’s partner organizations The Blue Frontier Group and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). All of this took place with the Golden Gate Bridge as a dramatic backdrop.
Poor weather conditions delayed Savage’s official launch until August 12. Less than two weeks in to her epic adventure, gale force winds and 20-foot high waves capsized her boat four times in two nights. When a concerned well-wisher called in the Coast Guard, Savage had little choice but to allow them to rescue her. Concerned that the story would turn negative, Ogilvy stepped in to crisis management mode. We crafted positive messaging that focused on Savage’s commitment to resume her adventure, as well as Brocade’s 100% support. In an effort to dispel rumors and myths quickly and efficiently, we proactively engaged with key journalists and provided the press with the facts surrounding the rescue and Savage’s future plans in a timely manner.
The media stuck with us for the entire, wild ride. During the month of July, Ogilvy PR secured more than 24,350,000 American broadcast media impressions alone. This coverage aired on multiple affiliates in 15 of the top 20 media markets in the US, as well as at least 47 additional cities. Both launch dates drew international press, including “The CBS Early Show”, The New York Times, “Live with Regis and Kelly”, The San Francisco Chronicle, National Geographic Adventurer and NPR. The story was featured on Yahoo!’s homepage the day after Roz launched, generating nearly $500K in ad value and more than 20 page views per second on the website. All media coverage following Savage’s rescue was fair, balanced and accurate and did not have any negative implications for Brocade.
More important than media results, we succeeded in connecting the Brocade brand to Savage’s important cause. According to Leslie Davis, Global Communications Manager for Brocade, “Ogilvy PR’s success in managing the Roz Savage sponsorship far exceeded our wildest expectations. Not only did they manage to secure an incredibly impressive return on our initial investment and overwhelming international media coverage, but they have also helped us successfully utilize this sponsorship as an internal communications tool to boost a sense of pride and unity among Brocade employees. If ever there was an example of a sports sponsorship done right – this is it.”