De Beers initiative a safe bet
Hence, I was intrigued to see the internal communications initiative produced by Ignite Joe Public for mining giant De Beers as it used classic marketing techniques to get across the message.
Safety is the number one concern for De Beers and they enlisted their employees to help draft the “Zero Harm” vision back in 2006.
Yet, it became apparent that the message needed repeating, and in a way which would make it resonate emotionally with miners and other workers. They tried out a “No Tolerance” positioning, but that didn’t work in the way they wanted.
What Ignite Joe Public came up with was simple, but in classic advertising style pulled at the heartstrings.
Turning around the “hows” of safety, it focused on the “whys” – the most important of which was: return home safe to my family. And nobody knows more than the local mining community that desire is more than mere words.
De Beers workers at a number of mines were asked, via internal posters and e-mails: “Why will you stay safe today?”
More than 80 percent responded, sending in their personal reasons for staying safe, including pictures of their families.
The messages made their way on to posters and on to printed templates, which were sown on to the back of overalls and work clothes as a constant reminder of the real reason they go to work every day… their families.
It’s simple, but stunningly effective. Carrots work much better than sticks in most public service marketing and communication, which is what this is. But what makes this campaign stand out is the way it zeroes in on one of the strongest emotions in any person.
So Orchids to De Beers and to Ignite Joe Public. It’s a classic case study in how to talk to employees.
The danger in using clichés or hip phrases in marketing campaigns is that you might use them out of context, or worse, could combine two words which don’t relate to each other to make a unique piece of silliness.
Such is the achievement of AON, a company which is involved in insurance and employee benefits.
Its radio ad, which has been running for a while, irritates the daylights out of me every time I hear it.
The company’s proud slogan is: Empower Results.
What? Not empowering people to achieve results, nor empowering companies to do better or provide better benefits for their employees, both of which would be correct.
Empower results, however, makes no grammatical sense.
Firstly, the word empower applies to people and companies. Normally, when used in this context, it implies that the person, the com- pany or organisation, has been given the power to do something.
Perhaps to improve their position in life or profitability. Hence black economic empowerment is giving black people the power to improve their economic situation.
A result, however, cannot, by definition, be changed. If it is, then it is a new result. Something which cannot be changed, therefore, cannot be empowered.
A result is also, effectively, an inanimate object, much like a chair. And how many furniture companies advertise that they “Empower Chairs”?
I can imagine the clevers at AON – I’m not sure whether a marketing agency was involved, because this silly slogan permeates the company’s entire corporate identity – sitting down to thrash out a catchy company buzz phrase.
What are the buttons to push which are hot at the moment? Empower? Cool! Results? Cool! Let’s put them together…
I hope you’re not as quick to throw together disparate and unrelated ideas and terms in your business world, AON.
You get this week’s Onion for further diluting the power of language.
And that is one of the mottoes of this column: Onions: Empowering People to Improve Their Grammar.
Ignite Joe Public shows how keeping it simple can be effective.
Putting the families in the picture tugs at the heartstrings.
The back-to-back work-safety message hits a nerve.
The question on everyone’s lips is: Why will you stay safe today?
A simple message gets the workforce thinking…