South Pole Energy Challenge

EDELMAN, London / SHELL / 2018

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Case Film






Achieving a more sustainable energy future requires an energy transition that allows society to reduce its emissions and tackle climate change, while extending the economic and social benefits of energy to everyone. Shell is a willing and able player in this transition - but the perception isn't changing as fast as the company. We wanted to take our most important skeptics on a journey to overthrow dated perceptions.

Whilst our Millennial audience care about energy issues, they prioritise their own life experiences and interests, such as travel, technology and family, over deeper engagement with the global energy challenge.

We needed to break into their lives and put the importance of renewable energy on their radar, encouraging this skeptical audience to:

• Reappraise perceptions of Shell; a company pushing the boundaries of clean energy innovation

• Improve their understanding of what renewables mean, and their viability in the future energy mix.


We needed to reach Energy Engaged Millennials (EEMs), a key audience for Shell’s renewable energy message. Our research showed that this 18-34 y/o audience was marginally engaged with climate and sustainability, but still prioritised their own life experiences and interests, such as travel, technology and their relationships. They over-index on social platform use and sharing, so we kept this in mind when planning our activities across Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

Our insights gave us a single clear strategy that would ensure their attention was captured and held for the duration without demanding their commitment to a linear storyline. Our content was bite-size, entertaining and awe-inspiring. They would feel moved to share and they would re-evaluate Shell as a leader in sustainable technologies, understanding that the brand is taking active and real actions to allow the energy transition.


We followed our heroes across 5 continents, training and learning about the technology that would keep them alive. Using the world’s first interactive, geographically accurate, ultra-HD, mobile map, people could follow their journey using satellite phone technology, voice recordings and real-time footage from the ice. All social interactions pointed back to Shell’s owned channels, ensuring deeper levels of brand engagement.

The explorers’ story was in huge demand: despite 4 other expeditions competing for airtime we had extensive coverage across Sky, Reuters and BBC, including features during the Christmas season.

The campaign came together in just 10 weeks, despite the challenges of Antarctic conditions and a short expedition window.

The strength of our content mitigated backlash against any association between Shell and the Antarctic, and the duo were invited to the World Economic Forum in Davos, from where they shared their experiences via a Facebook Live interview.


• Over 33 million views across social media for 44 pieces of content

• +4.8 million engagements across all social channels with positive sentiments – with an average engagement rate of 1.8% achieved

• 600 million people reached through earned media including in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Reuters, The Times, Sky News, BBC, ITV News, International Business Times and the Mail Online

• 422 pieces of coverage achieved to date with 92% including mention of Shell and 100% positive in tone

• People who saw the campaign are 31% more likely to believe that Shell is committed to cleaner fuels and 26% more likely to agree that we’re working to provide a sustainable energy future

• Brand favourability increased by 12%

• Robert and Barney spoke at the World Economic Forum in Davos to share their experiences, discuss the importance of renewable energy and conduct a Facebook Live interview (attracting 917k views) that was also shared on Facebook’s official Influencer page

• A culmination of the positive sentiments and the following the campaign achieved, turned Barney Swan from fiercely opposed to Shell into an active brand advocate.

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