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Shell Oil Company and Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado | Cause-Related Marketing 

Healing Colorado's Forests

The Challenge
In 2002, the worst wildfire in Colorado history raged across the state, destroying wildlife habitat, scorching forest soils, and causing mud and debris to slide down hillsides into vital watersheds. At the same time, corporate scandals involving Enron, WorldCom and Tyco left a weary public wondering whom it could trust. The public cynicism concerned corporate leaders, who needed to educate and engage the public to move business initiatives forward.

The MGA Solution
MGA and its client, Shell Oil Co., knew these twin problems presented both a challenge and an opportunity to differentiate Shell from the untrustworthy corporations making headlines. A longtime member of the Colorado business community, Shell had frequently stated its commitment to behaving in an environmentally responsible way. The devastation left by the Hayman Fire gave Shell an opportunity to demonstrate that it would go above and beyond to help Colorado conserve and protect its natural resources.

In an example of public-private partnership, MGA helped Shell establish a Web site in cooperation with the Colorado Department of Natural Resources to raise much-needed funds for slope stabilization and reforestation efforts. Funding from the Shell Oil Company Foundation provided $25,000 in seed money for the ReForest Colorado effort, while MGA and Shell helped the state raise additional funds by creating and driving traffic to the Web site through local advertising and earned media placements.

At the End of the Day
Staying connected to the community and using creative partnership-building techniques allowed Shell Oil Co. to enhance its reputation and deliver on its promise of corporate social responsibility.

Colorado Gov. Bill Owens and Department of Natural Resources Executive Director Greg Walcher expressed gratitude for Shell’s efforts to help Colorado heal from the Hayman Fire. Moreover, Shell’s ReForest Colorado program generated extensive positive statewide media coverage, which continued in 2003 as MGA assisted Shell in working with Volunteers of Outdoor Colorado to organize a volunteer effort to replant seeds throughout the torched landscape around Glenwood Springs.

Key Results
  • Sustained effort secured nearly 100 prominent media placements in statewide markets.
  • Two key newspapers in the state, The Denver Post and the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, published editorials showcasing Shell’s efforts and praising the company for exemplary corporate citizenship.
  • Strong execution provided tangible benefits to the community while enhancing overall corporate reputation.

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