How does a company with a 112-year-old past talk about the future? 

That was the task put to The Shipyard when American Electric Power, one of the nation’s largest energy companies based in Columbus, Ohio, chose the marketing engineering firm to tell the story of its investment in cleaner forms of energy — including wind, solar and natural gas — as well as into a more advanced and efficient electricity grid.

But rather than tout windmills, turbines and power lines, The Shipyard’s production team chose a more personal and authentic approach, focusing instead on true stories, events and people chosen from AEP’s more than 17,000 employees and more than five million customers.

Opting to shoot locally, with most locations falling within a 100- to 200-mile radius of AEP’s local operating company headquarter locations, production units were sent out to capture individual stories while also identifying key landmarks or images that could be used for both the local campaign, entitled “Boundless Energy” and a national spot, called “Reveal.”

At AEP, Corporate Communications Director Teresa McWain worked with local AEP subsidiaries to find local stories to feature, in the end, targeting some 70 ideas and more than 100 on-camera talent interviews to bring to life the campaign’s message.

The enormous undertaking and production outcome resulted in a vast body of work that leverages AEP’s brand equity and strongly resonates with its core audience.

Mike Long, Chief Content Officer at The Shipyard adds. “Ultimately, we fell back on our reality backgrounds and worked with specialty casting agents to sort through the stories and interview each potential candidate before narrowing down our best options.”

The Shipyard team then invested extensive time into pre-production, developing scripts and schedules along with intricate shot matrices to map out where images and locations could address common needs as well as specific uses. “From the get-go,” notes Long, “this was always treated as a massive capture session, not only for video, but for static imagery as well.” 

All of which meant timeframe, budgets and talent schedules were consistently challenged to find new efficiencies throughout. 

“Our schedule had us capturing the majority of each location’s footage within an 8- to -10 day timeframe, so the production typically moved as one large traveling performance from location to location,” he said. “While the majority of each spot has original and unique footage, there were instances where we needed to capture shots that could be leveraged across the entire look and feel footprint.”

In all, the six-month production resulted in 45 30-second spots, one which appeared locally during this year’s Super Bowl, as well as thousands of still images for use across digital, print and other marketing materials all designed to highlight AEP’s role in the future of energy.

The new campaign comes as AEP faces an energy landscape moving rapidly toward renewable energy options. “It’s an exciting time for them.  The fast pace of technology development and adoption, along with changes in social consciousness are creating new opportunities for AEP and the overall energy industry,” says David Grzelak, The Shipyard’s Chief of Strategy.

Going forward, The Shipyard’s campaign for AEP will run on national cable news networks, and in regional markets.

“AEP may be one of the oldest and largest energy companies in the world,” says Long. “However, we believe its story is best told through the individual stories of those who are creating its future each and every day.” 

About The Shipyard
The Shipyard is a leading, independent marketing consultancy and the world's first “marketing engineering” agency.   The company was founded in 2013 by industry veteran Rick Milenthal, who was CEO of the leading national digital agency, Engauge, now a part of Publicis Groupe.