lewis shell

Credit: You Tube/Shell

The energy industry is a source of technological innovation and remarkable engineering.

From the use of advanced machinery to extract previously inaccessible volumes of natural gas and shale oil to the management of global projects and the benefits of real-time intelligence, pioneers abound in one of the world’s most important areas of commerce and economic influence.
And yet, expressing these points to the public at large – applying the same degree of passion and originality to creative development as one would exercise on behalf of something like offshore drilling – must be a priority for the energy industry.


Short of doing that, despite the increasing strides for cleaner fuel and less harmful emissions, a dated perception of companies (both large and small) will persist: A caricature about Big Oil, which reads like a discarded first draft from Upton Sinclair, indicting a group of secret political chieftains and robber barons, whose corpulent image (as drawn by an editorial cartoonist) shows these same operatives with pockets overflowing with cash and their hands greased by the very material that pollutes and darkens America’s rivers and waterways.

If this depiction seems too exaggerated – if it evokes the muckraking journalism of a prior century – I invite readers to Google their way through the descriptions of today’s oil and gas businesses.

The results vary between outright attacks against the energy industry in its entirety to unsubstantiated accusations about corruption, and the wholesale abandonment (without punishment) of environmental regulations and strict federal guidelines.

All of which confirms the need for companies to embrace Creative Development, to establish and articulate their respective voice for the good of their existing work and the support of the nation’s citizenry.

The best way to approach this assignment is with the help of an independent expert, someone who is a master of the trio of services (Business Development, Project Management and Creative Development) that every company must address and make their own.
A good example of that latter point involves this highlight reel celebrating the career of David Ogilvy, the famed advertiser, salesman and copywriter. Near the three-minute mark of the clip there is a bit from Ogilvy’s TV campaign for Shell Petroleum – the full commercial is here – that explains the benefits of a particular additive (“Platformate”) for improved gas mileage and, indirectly, a cleaner environment.
Or, to quote Robert Grede, a former advertising executive and an admirer of Ogilvy’s 1967 series of TV spots for Shell:
“Now truth be told, all gasoline back then contained Platformate. Yet Ogilvy recognized the importance of getting there first. His claim preempted the competition. And Shell became the bestselling gasoline in the U.S. It took years for the competition to dispel the idea that Platformate was unique to Shell.”
Collaborating with the Right Creative Expert
If Ogilvy’s legacy teaches us one unforgettable fact, and his work contains a multitude of timeless lessons, it is this: Every business, most especially an oil or gas company, must distinguish itself as a leader regarding a product or service it provides; it must leverage the seemingly obscure or complex by converting it (and by “it,” I mean something common to an industry, but unknown by most consumers) into a household name.
To do that requires, as mentioned before, the counsel of an expert.
One such professional is Doug Cooper, Founder of Trubelo, which shapes the distinctive narratives that companies need in a highly competitive marketplace.
I cite Trubelo because, in my own search of consultants and agencies, in reading the assertions and statements (about when and how to focus on Business Development, Project Management and Creative Development) from these individuals, I now recognize that Doug is a member of an esteemed minority of professionals.
He is the proverbial outlier, the one who “gets it”; he has the Ogilvy-like insight the energy industry must follow, if it is to enjoy the rewards it should receive and the respect it should secure.
According to Doug:
“Creative Development involves gathering relevant information, reviewing existing strengths and opportunities for improvement, and debuting new processes to achieve better results with a superior solution. That solution emerges from a structured plan. Indeed, structure is not another word for stricture; it is, instead, the reason why there can be flexibility to conceive new ideas and flourish.”
I second that comment because, based on the legacy of David Ogilvy and the sound advice of Doug Cooper, the value of Creative Development is undeniable.
Now is the time to call upon these intellectual reservoirs of communications and customized messaging.
Now is the time to strike oil by striking a chord of creativity . . . and common sense.
Lewis Fein is an independent marketing and media relations consultant, who works with equipment suppliers and technology providers in the energy industry. Lewis also has a law degree from the Emory University School of Law. He can be reached at [email protected]