Emerson goes to extremes

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Engineering company Emerson last month rolled out new ads in its ongoing “It's Never Been Done Before” campaign that showcase solutions based on two customer stories. DDB Chicago created the ads, which feature Lukoil Group, a Russian oil and gas company, and NBN Co, an Australian telecommunications company. The budget for the latest wave of creative—including TV, print, online and outdoor—is estimated at $12 million. “It's Never Been Done Before” is part of Emerson's overall “Consider it solved” positioning. “With these customer stories, we want to show that we enable companies that are operating in extreme areas—whether they're hot, cold or far away—to conduct business 24/7, 365 days a year,” said Emerson CMO Kathy Button Bell. She said the criteria for selecting customer stories are very stringent, as they have to demonstrate that the Emerson solutions being showcased have “never been done before,” as the campaign name promises. As part of the selection process, customer stories are categorized in a matrix with four boxes: New to the business, new to the world, minor revisions and major revisions (in terms of product development). Emerson's five business units are climate technologies, industrial automation, process management, network power, and commercial and residential solutions. “We contact the businesses, brand offices and business leaders, and ask them what stories they have that live up to "never been done before,' ” Bell said. “We have to prove it, and it's very tough criteria around the world, having not been done before.” Emerson started off with about 18 stories, then narrowed them down until it had two that really stood out, she said. Lukoil selected Emerson to automate its Varandey facility, the world's northernmost continuously operating oil terminal. For NBN, Emerson is providing technology to support the building of a broadband network across Australia—the country's largest infrastructure project ever. Once it had selected the stories, Emerson turned to DDB Chicago to help it develop the integrated campaign. “We have to take these incredibly complex stories about incredibly sophisticated technology and solutions and distill them down to something simple, powerful and easily understandable,” said Marcia Iacobucci, senior VP-group creative director at DDB Chicago. “For Lukoil, the oil terminal [in Varandey] is in a very difficult environment. There are dangers when shutting down, and the ability to keep it running continuously and safely is very important to the customer. It has never been done before.” Iacobucci described the process of developing the creative: “How do we visualize how cold it is? We had the ocean and the ice, and from there we came up with a wolf as the symbol of overcoming this challenge. We are really trying to demonstrate that Emerson is innovative. The wolf is a very nice icon—a powerful, determined creature who can overcome this kind of environment and thrive.” DDB photographed wolves for the print ads and used the photos to create computer-generated images for the TV spot, working with the Mill, New York, a CGI production house. In the spot, a lone wolf is struggling through a violent winter storm as voice-over says: “Help a Russian oil terminal overcome minus-47-degree temps, five-foot ice and 16-foot waves to safely keep crude oil flowing 365 days a year? When Emerson takes up the challenge, "It's never been done before' simply becomes "Consider it solved.' ” For the NBN spot, Iacobucci asked, “How do you make it feel iconic? We came up with a kangaroo and the idea of a "mob'—that is actually the term to describe a group of them—of kangaroos crossing the continent and becoming trails of light to represent the broadband connection.” In the TV spot, one kangaroo leads a mob of kangaroos across the desert, while voice-over says, “Help join a continent of nearly 3 million rugged square miles with a single broadband connection? When Emerson takes up the challenge, "It's never been done before' simply becomes "Consider it solved.'” The spots are running on cable networks including CNBC, Fox Business, Fox News and the Golf Channel, as well as on YouTube and a microsite ( neverbeendone). Print ads are running in Fortune and The Wall Street Journal, and online ads are on such websites as, and In addition, the campaign includes airport executions and mobile ads.
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