Winners 2023

Best corporate campaign

From Spanish utility to green energy major
Agency: Headland Consultancy

Spanish-headquartered energy company Iberdrola started to transition away from fossil fuels 20 years ago, but outside its home market there was minimal awareness or understanding of its leadership. Research of Financial Times’ readers ranked Iberdrola 27th out of 33 energy companies for familiarity, but, out of those who did know the company, it ranked fifth for favourability.

This research set the challenge to tell Iberdrola’s energy leadership story to a wider audience to build both familiarity and favourability. The need was urgent. Capital is flowing to transition-driving businesses and sectors, so Iberdrola needed to be seen as a global leader.

But many investors and the media are still focused on the ‘energy majors’, multinationals such as BP, Shell and Exxon, which de facto act as industry bellwethers. Headland Consultancy decided change the frames of reference: rather than wait for the energy majors to come to the world’s rescue, the agency needed to show that a more immediate response was coming from a different set of businesses.

Its research indicated that Iberdrola would invest more in green energy by 2030 than all the European energy majors. A new category of energy company – the Green Energy Major – had to be created.

Headland built an integrated communications campaign, using Iberdrola’s chairman Ignacio Galan to tell the story. The plan had four strands.

A financial calendar, including a capital markets day, established the facts with analysts and close watchers of Iberdrola, and provided the foundations for the campaign.

A sustained Tier 1 earned media programme, encompassing Bloomberg, The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times and the New York Times, consistently pushed the green agenda. Each article displayed the key message that Iberdrola was a first-mover on transition at large scale. But Headland also consistently used the term ‘green energy major’ or ‘new energy major’ in all its dealings with journalists, seeding the phrase into their articles.

Senior executives from Iberdrola, including Galan, spoke at a carefully curated selection of high-profile events, such as Davos, COP28, FT Climate Capital, FT Hydrogen Summit and WSJ Festival of Everything.

And finally, paid media partnerships with the Financial Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal, amplified its earned media impact with content, accelerating progress with targeted audiences across capital markets, business and key governments.

These gave greater depth to its storytelling, putting Iberdrola and AVANGRID, its American business, at the heart of the energy transition. For example, its video content on Wall Street Journal had almost 49,000 views while those on the FT: Energy Source channel generated more than 310,000 views, with an average dwell time in excess of two minutes.

The campaign positively drove Iberdrola’s reputation. Research of Financial Times’ readers showed a five percentage point increase in favourability to 49 per cent, against 42 per cent for BP, while more than four in ten saw Iberdrola as ‘the leader in renewable energy solutions’.

‘The results speak for themselves,’ said the judges. ‘Fantastic insight and strategy. A clever campaign with category establishing messaging and a great use of channels.’