ABB Subsea Press Tour

Press launch of ground-breaking subsea power distribution technology in Finland

Dream the Extreme

Background

As part of our wider brief for ABB Energy Industries, Admiral was given an additional project to promote a £100 million Joint Industry Research and Development project between ABB and energy majors Equinor, Total and Chevron.

The project sought to create, test and validate the world’s first power technology system distributing and converting power from the seabed. If successful energy companies, for the first time ever, would be able to access a reliable supply of up to 100 megawatts of power, over distances up to 600 kilometres and down to 3,000 meters water depth, at pressures that could shatter a brick.

Our mission

Admiral was tasked with building awareness of the project during its final year of development, culminating in a press trip, where the most influential energy, oil and gas journalists would be invited to visit the testing site. It was hoped, but not certain, that the press trip would coincide with the successful announcement that the R&D phase was complete, the technology had been proven and was ready to go to market.

Strategy

Admiral systematically built interest and hype for the project from January 2019 onwards through a series of regular face-to-face media briefings, interviews and feature bylines. The main focus of activity, however, was the press trip.

With three months until potential ‘D’ day – when the final test would be completed – the team worked closely with ABB to create an itinerary that catered to every scenario. Key challenges included:

  • Possibility that the final test wouldn’t complete successfully;
  • Lack of visibility under water meant live streams/images of the technology in situ couldn’t be achieved;
  • If the test was successful it was confirmed that the technology wouldn’t be lifted out of the water – so no visual end to the test; and
  • The location of the testing site was in Vaasa, Finland with the test ending in mid-November so we had to contend with lack of light and cold/icy weather.

With this in mind, we created an event itinerary that worked within a wider creative concept #dreamtheextreme. This would enable us to communicate key elements of the project should we not be able to announce successful completion of the project.

#dreamtheextreme was used to convey the three most important messages related to the project:

  • Innovation – the project has pushed the boundaries in design & development going further, deeper and more extreme than ever before, overcoming multiple obstacles and conquering harsh environments. It really is the field of the future;
  • Collaboration – over 200 scientists & engineers globally have worked together tirelessly for the last six years to make this dream a reality; and
  • Energy Transition – the technology developed in this project can have a major impact on how oil & Ggas production will be in the future. By connecting to power generated on shore operations can become more efficient and environmentally friendly than use of gas turbines locally on offshore platforms. Subsea power is a key enabler for the ultimate vision of a subsea factory.

An online teaser countdown campaign was issued to attendees, to build excitement and anticipation in the run-up to the trip.

A white paper was commissioned and released to media on the trip, which gave an in-depth insight into the whole project and the technical aspects – which hugely helped secure coverage.

To address the potential lack of a news announcement we invited Eric Larson, renowned polar adventurer, to host the event. We used his experiences outside the world of technology and oil and gas to tie into the wider #dreamtheextreme concept and offer additional content. In his role as host he delivered a keynote speech that aligned the project messaging with his own experiences.

Admiral successfully managed every aspect in relation to the media from invites, booking flights, accommodation logistics, and legal requirements – including arranging branded ABB polar-style winter coats and ice spikes for everyone (it was very cold!)

Admiral also attended to manage the media during the trip. At the event, we divided the media  into five groups and took them to Vaasa harbor to meet the engineers on the ground to learn more about the different components that comprise the technology. The groups were rotated around the site to ensure everyone got the chance to see, talk and discuss at each point.

From here we transported all journalists to Vaasa city library. As ABB was unable to deliver live images from below the surface, a 3D film was created which simulated a submarine and helped bring to life the challenges posed by such an inhospitable environment. A panel session was held here giving ABB and all partners a platform to promote their role in the collaborative project.

Finally, to offer some light relief and tie into the local environment we took all attendees to Kalle’s Inn. Sitting on the edge of UNESCO world heritage area, journalists took part in a schedule of one-to-one media briefings with ABB executives to discuss the project in more detail. For those brave enough, traditional Finnish saunas followed by a dip in the sea were on offer.

At the last minute, it was confirmed that it could be announced on the trip that ABB had successfully completed the project – which was not only a fantastic opportunity to celebrate ABB’s success at becoming the first in the world to achieve this but gave the journalists attending a media exclusive on this news for 24 hours, before it was released widely.

Results

  • 19 journalists attended, some flying in from as far as Canada and US, including representatives from publications including Forbes, World Oil, Rigzone, Offshore and World Oil;
  • Over 70 pieces of coverage have appeared to date spanning global industry media titles, with further articles in the pipeline;
  • Over 200 social media mentions as a result of the trip;

“Please accept and pass on my thanks to your team for organizing a great event… good media & partner presence and well orchestrated content… clear and strong message to the industry.”

Managing director – ABB Energy Industries

“I just would like to thank you all for a very well organized media event in Vaasa last week. There is a lot of hard work that goes into preparations of such a big happening. It looks like we have got really good coverage in the media. I have also received a lot of positive feedback both from our partners and from my network in the industry.”

Vice president – Subsea Technology Program

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