October 25, 2016 • History Factory
Your company anniversary can provide a unique opportunity to take stock of where you’ve been and where you are going. Anniversaries are natural crossroads, a bridge between the past and the future that allows Start with the Future and Work Back™ to reveal its full potential.
We’ve worked on highly integrated company anniversary campaigns for clients in just about every industry you can think of, from consumer goods and financial services, to retail, technology and business services. Today, anniversaries are viewed almost universally as opportunities to drive growth and achieve key objectives. But things were far different in the early 1990s.
Take Texaco, for instance. We received a call from someone in the company’s communications department about helping plan an upcoming anniversary celebration for the company’s UK subsidiary.
We were intrigued. Texaco’s history is rich and engaging. But when we showed up in London, we discovered a big problem. During our first meeting, the communications department confessed that it knew absolutely nothing about the British side of their history.
The history of oil in Texas? They had that down cold. They could spin some wonderful yarns about their work in Texas, but in regard to the company’s history in Britain, the well was dry.
Celebrating a 50th anniversary in Britain without knowing its history did, indeed, pose a problem, but we promised the team that if there was a history to be found, we’d unearth it.
And we did.
We discovered that Texaco had originated in Britain with the acquisition of a company called Regent Oil. As it turned out, Regent Oil had a colorful history that fed right into Texaco’s current-day expansion needs.
Regent had been the brainchild of an amazing entrepreneur named Simon Vos. Not unlike Marcus Samuel, the founder of Shell Oil, Vos was a Jewish businessman looking to find a niche in a highly stratified British society that offered few opportunities for outsiders.
Vos was a great character. He was a jobber. He had spunk and intelligence. Vos bought spot oil on the market and put it out there for sale to a whole bunch of rough-and-tumble types who needed it. And he made a fortune, creating a company that grew so valuable that it captured Texaco’s attention in 1956.
When we unearthed everything we could find about Vos and we presented the findings to our client, he was absolutely blown away. He said, “Wow. You mean, we have a real founder? And an origin story?”
We could have just given Texaco facts and dates, but we gave them a founder instead. We gave them an individual — a real character — who became the centerpiece of a successful anniversary campaign that proved to have global reach.
Most organizations at that time were content to simply throw anniversary-themed parties or manufacture commemorative tchotchkes rather than dig into their corporate heritage and share authentic stories. By using Start with the Future and Work Back™ , we gave Texaco a piece of its own history back.
The above is a passage from Start with the Future and Work Back: A Heritage Management Manifesto. The book offers a unique look at how leading global organizations are leveraging their heritage assets to drive real business advantage.
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