How do you persuade your employees to sail round the world the wrong way?

It’s a big ask for even the most committed workforce, and it was our challenge for the Global Challenge round-the-world race. BP’s racing yacht would pick up two BP employees when they stopped in port, and they’d crew for the next leg.

But finding volunteers wasn’t easy. We worked out that this was because they weren’t really telling the story. No one cares if it’s a 22-footer or about the size of the spinnaker – what you’ve got to sell them is high adventure on the high seas.

Sell them an experience

So we got involved. We wrote a full campaign – intranet, email, brochure, posters – to get people interested and wanting to know more. Things like this:

It was really dark with no moon and lots of clouds. Lightning was everywhere. I heard something that sounded like a sneeze, and then another and another. We were surrounded by dolphins. They were speeding along with the boat and you could see their trails in the phosphorescence.
Nancy Doyle aboard BP Explorer, 2000

This worked. Internal comms turned into a full campaign with Enterprise IG, spanning brochures and posters too.

Telling success stories

Fast forward 12 years, and now we’re writing for Team BP, BP’s employee award programme. Having had a real wake-up call with the Gulf Horizon disaster, BP realised they needed to focus on softer team skills from their many global employees. So they’ve put values and behaviours in place to guide people, and are recognising people who are really bringing these to life.

They’ve asked us to interview award winners and write up their stories for their global intranet. Their prize? A trip to London for the 2012 Olympics. Now there’s bound to be a story or two in that.