If you watched the ever-popular Master’s golf tournament two weeks ago, you saw threads of a trend that Corporate America has embraced in the past few years.
Exxon Mobil, the world’s largest company by revenue in 2011, used a “Masters Moment” to promote its “Let’s Solve This” campaign to position the company, which becomes particularly important in a time of $ 4+/gallon gas.
Now, whether you agree with its effectiveness is another matter, but studies show its smart business — people prefer to do business with companies that are good corporate citizens.
In 2003, at the behest of a forward-thinking government relations representative, we created a campaign for Exxon called “In Texas, For Texas” to emphasize the company’s contribution to the Texas economy and the tax base that funds our schools; it’s team of scientists and engineers creating innovative technologies with application to all sectors of our economy; the company’s charitable donations, and the volunteer hours and philanthropic contributions of its ‘stakeholders’, particularly its employees and retirees.
That campaign has continued throughout the company and we saw its recent manifestation during the 2012 Masters.
The current campaign promotes the National Math and Science Initiative to get more of our youth interested and trained in those subjects, where the US lags significantly compared to other countries. (we rank 25th in math, and 17th in science). According to the company website, Exxon’s long-term success depends on a capable workforce — “it’s not just U.S. leadership in energy that’s at risk — it’s also our leadership in medicine, research, technology and other pillars of the American economy.”
Call it grassroots marketing, public relations, or advertising (the lines are blurring), but companies are increasingly looking for to put the people back in corporate as the primary way they present themselves to the consuming public.
Exxon doesn’t want to known as just a monolithic oil and gas producer; it’s important for the company to be company of people and products helping our economy grow and doing good deeds, not a faceless corporation only interested in profits. I couldn’t find the Master’s campaign (they’re notoriously protective of their brand), but here’s a clip to give you a sense of what I’m talking about.
By the way, a recent poll of sports fans found that Masters weekend is more anticipated than the Final Four and attracts millions of viewers worldwide. It’s no wonder Exxon is one of the event’s 3 major sponsors.
When a good message is communicated by the right messengers across several channels, brand favorability, purchase consideration, and reputation generally rise. It will be interesting to see how this campaign tracks for Exxon.
“Those who have a joyful and meaningful ‘why’ to life can bear with gratitude almost any ‘how’ — Vicktor Frankl