Reality TV programs typically don't play a role in b-to-b marketing plans, but a new show introduced this month by DuPont does exactly that. “Challenge for Zero” features aspiring engineering and business school students from India competing to come up with science-based innovations to solve world problems.
Scott Coleman, chief marketing and sales officer, acknowledged it might seem “pretty radical for a conservative company like DuPont to do a reality TV series.” But it's just another example of the company's “Welcome to the Global Collaboratory” coming to life, he said, citing the brand platform it launched in 2011 to bring people together to tackle global problems in the areas of food, fuel and safety.
DuPont has a hand in the story lines of “Challenge for Zero” and runs ads during the program, Coleman said. “Challenge for Zero” is shown in India, along with a companion program, “The Power of Shunya, the Quest for Zero,” a news documentary DuPont produces with Indian news organization Times Now that addresses how DuPont's science-based solutions can help communities worldwide achieve zero hunger, zero carbon emissions and zero workplace hazards.
Both programs follow in the footsteps of the BBC telecasts of “Horizons,” created by DuPont and its agency, Ogilvy Entertainment, New York, in partnership with the BBC and National Geographic. Coleman said “Horizons,” which has produced 56 episodes, won 33 awards and reached 245 mil-lion households. “It's had double-digit increases in many of our key brand metrics” among customers, Coleman said.
In another aspect of the “Welcome to the Global Collaboratory” initiative, DuPont has established a dozen Innovation Centers around the world—from Iowa and Michigan to Russia, South Korea and Turkey. The centers not only allow for collaboration between government partners and DuPont scientists but also enable the company to display its latest technological tools. “We can bring customers in and connect them with our scientists,” Coleman said.
DuPont is also stepping up its mobile marketing efforts. Mobile is especially critical in places like India, Coleman said, because “the vast majority of people don't own a computer.”