CarpatCement Promo, Case study HAND OVER THE HELMET by The Practice

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Industry Construction & Civil Engineering, Business equipment & services, Corporate Image
Media Promo & PR, Case study
Market Romania
Agency The Practice
Released September 2010

Credits & Description

Category: Corporate Communication
Communication Manager: Bogdan Arnautu (Carpatcement Holding)
Managing Partner: Gabriela Lungu (The Practice)
JR PR Manager: Bianca Damian (The Practice)
Event & Production Specialist: Ruxandra Avram (The Practice)
Media placement: Electronic messages on the intranet - Carpatcement Holding Intranet - 15 September 2010
Media placement: Employees informal meeting/ party - Crowne Plaza Ballroom, Bucharest - 9 November 2010
Media placement: Present and former CEOs participating to business events - Building Romanian Infrastructure (The Diplomat), Mediafax Talks about Constructions - 5 November 2010
Media placement: Press release announcing the hand over - Ziarul Financiar, Mediafax, News In, Nine o'clock, Business Review, Adevarul and many more - 15 November 2010
Media placement: Special cover story - BIZ magazine - 15 November 2010
Media placement: Press event - Noblesse - 18 November 2010

Summary of the Campaign
If at international level when you say “IT systems” you mainly mean “Bill Gates”, in Romania, when you say “cement” you definitely mean “Mihai Rohan, Carpatcement CEO”, also known as the irreplaceable “father of the cement industry”.

But, when the time comes, the retirement of such an iconic figure has to be dealt with great care, in a way that would be correctly understood by reticent employees, media and business environments that wouldn’t threaten the future CEO’s authority, nor endanger the continuity of the company he worked so hard to strengthen.

These were the challenges that the campaign designed for Carpatcement (HeidelbergCement group) succeeded to transform into reality! As you will see, it managed to persuade the Romanian business environment that the new CEO will make the company not just survive the “cement father’s” leave, but remain as the country’s market leader, succeeded to gain all business journalists’ trust and support for the future CEO, younger and unknown to them, and convinced all employees to accept and collaborate with the new chief, thus ensuring a smooth management transition!

The Situation
Carpatcement, leader of the Romanian building materials industry, rejoiced being run by an important public figure, influent in its industry and for the national economy.

But, Carpatcement’s leader, who had been running it for a decade and worked for it for 20 years was at his retirement and wanted to withdraw. This apparently simple decision was a crucial corporate situation, since Carpatcement leader was perceived as “irreplaceable” and there was an economic recession affecting the industry and the company.

We had to design a campaign to quickly communicate to heterogeneous publics the exit in a way that wouldn’t endanger the company’s survival.

The Goal
Objective: not only to announce the management change in a manner that would guarantee reasons aren’t misinterpreted, that would gain the new CEO’s acceptance and keep the company safe, but also organize a memorable exit for The Leader.

For this, we had to quickly convince various publics: employees, media and business environment.

We started from 2 research insights: those who advise leaders, immediately succeed to impose in front of journalists and businessmen due to their expertise; irrespective of the public, everyone would understand the change better if they could openly talk during face to face meetings with the CEO and his continuer.

The Strategy
Starting from the research insights, we focused on making the two CEOs be perceived as "two old team members" that fought together to strengthen the company’s market place, while positioning the young one as the trustful "right hand" and counsellor of the "father of cement", who until then, supported him from the shadow. During the campaign, we constantly used the former CEO’s image capital and expertise for consolidating the young professional’s credibility.

We organized personal meetings with each public, which made them all engage in an extremely rare moment in any company’s life (handing over the "helm") and offered them the occasion to closely interact with both actors of this ceremony: the former and the future CEO.

For a creative touch, we transformed the "handing over the helm" process into the "handing over the helmet", since the safety helmet is one of the universal symbols which defines the building materials industry.

The strategy included 2 communication campaigns: internal campaign, based on 2 phases and external campaign, including 3 steps.

The internal communication: started with personalized messages for employees, sent by the CEO via intranet, announcing his retirement and the appointment of his rightful continuer. Afterwards, we organized an informal meeting with the CEOs. This was transformed into an event dedicated to The Leader, one resembling the “AFI Life Achievement Awards” Hollywood parties.

The external communication: introduced the trustful advisor to the business community. First, both CEOs participated at business events, thus becoming perceived as a true team by business people. Secondly, we publicly announced the executive change. Thirdly, we organized a formal event, where trade, business journalists and analysts personally met the 2 CEOs and witnessed a historical moment. In front of all, The Leader "handed over the helm" to his rightful continuer, one specific to their industry: a "safety helmet".

Documented Results
• Employees’ new leader’s acceptance: ALL middle and top management, easily accepted the new CEO, with no turmoil in the company
• Media coverage:
ALL business publications wrote about Carpatcement management change (1 time over initial estimation)
NO negative articles registered on this sensitive topic.
• Almost 300,000 readers in printed business media and 4,600,000 unique readers in news and business websites.
• Positive coverage extensively surpassed the moment of the communication actions! Last articles regarding our topic appeared 1 and ½ months after the announcement!