When Dow Chemical Co. put its advertising and marketing account up for review earlier this year, the pitch team of Foote Cone & Belding and GolinHarris had a secret weapon: Patti Temple Rocks.
An exec VP at GolinHarris, Chicago, at the time, Temple Rocks started her marketing career at Dow in the early 1980s. She knew the company, its history and its culture. And she knew of Dow's desire to restore its reputation after years in which most media mentions of the company centered around breast implants and its association (through its acquisition of Union Carbide in 2001) with the Bhopal chemical leak disaster.
"I thought this is such a great company; how did it get off track?" Temple Rocks said.
FCB and GolinHarris briefly considered focusing on how Dow products are the ingredients in other products, such as Nike shoes, but that had been done before. Then there was the idea of talking about the science behind Dow products. The team liked that idea but tweaked it by focusing on the beneficiaries of the science, not the scientists themselves
The resulting theme, the "human element," landed FCB GolinHarris the Dow account in March. Temple Rocks rejoined Dow in May, this time as VP-global communications and reputation, an admittedly unusual title but one with a purpose.
"By literally making it part of my title, it really is a signal to everyone within the organization that we mean business," she said. "Our reputation at its most basic level is our license to operate. We are a company that is undergoing a great deal of transformation."
The "Human Element" campaign, launched in mid-June, is the most significant that Dow has ever undertaken. TV spots, which debuted during NBC's coverage of the U.S. Open golf tournament, used dramatic imagery, real people and vistas of four continents to spotlight the company's efforts to address economic, social and environmental problems facing the global community. The campaign also includes print and online ads.
The campaign, currently running just in North America, will be expanded to Asia and Europe next year. Temple Rocks said domestic ad copy will subtly change over time to put "a little more meat on the bones." However, the underlying message—that Dow and others are working to improve the human condition—will remain the same.
Dow has received 1,000 unsolicited phone calls, e-mails and letters regarding the ads, 85% of which have been positive, Temple Rocks said. "Our early feedback is a very good indication that it's hitting the right buttons," she said.