Chevron Preps Global Push

NEW YORK A new global corporate image campaign for Chevron positions the client as much more than an oil company, showing, for example, how it produces geothermal energy, even while it continues to drill for oil.

The campaign, which breaks Sunday, retains the company’s previous “human energy” theme, but the tone of the TV portion of the effort has changed from whimsical and metaphorical to frank and topical with a photo-journalistic look.

Previous TV spots, from WPP Group’s Young & Rubicam, traded in metaphors, employing images such as a steady stream of baby carriages in international settings to depict issues like population growth.

New spots, from independent mcgarrybowen here, feature shots that illustrate energy exploration as well as faces around the world representing people who consume energy in their everyday lives. The global imagery is backed by sparse piano-led music and a narrative voiceover from actor Campbell Scott. Lance Acord of Park Pictures directed.

Chevron says in the spots that meeting the world’s energy needs requires a mixture of new and old resources and that the company is utilizing science and technology to help solve a global problem. One spot depicting the extraction of geothermal energy from the earth’s core ends with Campbell saying, “Imagine that. An oil company as part of the solution. This is the power of human energy.”

By offering solutions, Chevron sought to reassure people who feel hopeless, helpless or powerless in the face of energy problems and climate change—in sum, a feeling of fear that the San Ramon-Calif.-based company identified in its consumer research, said Helen Clark, manager of corporate brand and reputation.

“They have such a stunning lack of information that it’s very hard. They feel paralyzed. They feel like they can’t move forward,” said Clark. “So a lot of the programs that we’ve got are just helping people to really understand what they can do, what the issues are and what some of the solutions are.”

Campbell was selected for the “deep resonance” of his voice and because he didn’t sound commercial or “announcer-like,” said Gordon Bowen, chief creative officer at mcgarrybowen. Likewise, the agency hired Acord, the cinematographer on Lost in Translation and Being John Malkovich, because he had “a sense of humanity in his work” as well as “a certain optimism,” Bowen said.

“It needed to have credibility. It needed to be honest, it needed to be human in terms of quality of film. And it needed to feel not over-produced,” said Bowen.

Mcgarrybowen produced five spots, the first of which, the 2-minute and 30-second “Untapped Energy,” breaks during Sunday’s night’s episode of 60 Minutes. The campaign also includes print ads from Y&R, online banner ads from WPP’s Wunderman, a redesigned Web site from independent Sequence and event sponsorships.

Internationally, the spots will run in Latin America, Europe, Africa and the Middle East, beginning Oct. 5.

Chevron declined to disclose a budget for the effort, which will extend into next year. Sources, however, estimated the global media spend at more than $40 million.