March 15, 2008
BY MICHAEL KRAUSS
relationship that sparks Dow Chemical’s highly successful
Human Element global reputation campaign is the rapport between
Dow’s CEO Andrew Liveris and Dow’s vice president
of global communications and reputation Patti Temple Rocks.
Liveris is the visionary
who sought to differentiate Dow from DuPont, BASF Corp. and other
competitors, while Temple Rocks brought the marketing communications
alchemy--that unique combination of marketing science, communications
art and interpersonal persuasion--to deliver the landmark corporate
identity campaign that has been transforming Dow since its launch
in June 2006.
The story of Temple
Rocks’ journey to C-level executive at Dow is equally instructive.
She’s done two stints at Golin Harris and at Dow, and ran
her own agency for nearly 10 years. Where others might have burned
bridges, Temple Rocks former employers are glowing.
“I always enjoyed
going to client meetings with Patti. She made me look good,”
quips Al Golin, chairman and founder of Golin Harris. “Patti
is a rare combination of creativity and sound strategic business
thinking,” adds Golin. His only regret is that Dow’s
Liveris “made her an offer she couldn’t refuse.”
Liveris made that offer
while Temple Rocks was working for Golin Harris, spearheading
an integrated communications team from Interpublic Group blending
Foote, Cone & Belding and Golin Harris in an aggressive attempt
to win a competitive bid for Dow’s business.
In the brief to the
agency, Dow outlined the company’s 2015 sustainability goals.
They described Dow’s desire to engage in the challenges
of global energy supply, climate change, affordable and adequate
food supply, decent housing, sustainable water supplies and improved
personal health and safety.
Dow needed to be much more aggressive in trying to be part of
the global dialogue,” says Temple Rocks. “We sat around
and debated a lot of different strategies. It became clear to
us, if you're in the chemical industry, there is a higher degree
of expectation of social responsibility,” she says.
“This was one
of those times when you go, ‘Wow, the client just gave us
something remarkable.’ From Dow’s aspirations to solve
compelling human problems, we landed on the Human Element campaign,”
The campaign features
real people from four continents, rather than actors, and relies
on powerful environmental and human imagery to make its point
and position Dow.
“I believe in
the importance of the personal passion and commitment of the CEO,”
says Temple Rocks. “I don't think you can do transformational
communications and branding work without it.” She credits
the combination of freedom and engagement from her CEO for the
success of the campaign. In the world of corporate reputation
and corporate branding campaign, Temple Rocks says great work
has to be connected to great leadership. She says Liveris set
the direction and the tone for the campaign. He doesn’t
micro-manage. He trusts Temple Rocks. And trusting her probably
had a lot to do with why he directly recruited her to come work
“In the midst
of developing The Human Element campaign for the agency, I was
approached by Dow,” says Temple Rocks. She tabled the discussion
until the competition for the account was resolved. She wondered
whether she could accept the job and implement a competing agency’s
vision. In the end, though, that was a non-issue because Interpublic
Group won the business and Temple Rocks made the move to Midland,
Mich., Dow’s headquarters, for the second time in her career.
The first was in 1981. Growing up in suburban Chicago, she had
hoped to join a Chicago agency after college graduation. “My
dream job was to work on the McDonalds account at Golin Harris,”
says Temple Rocks. “[But] in 1981 those jobs were hard to
come by. The training program at Dow was terrific and paid more
than the agency,” she adds.
Being single in Midland,
though, came to be a challenge. “My single person side wanted
to get back to Chicago,” says Temple Rocks. “I moved
back to Chicago and went to work for Golin Harris on the Ronald
McDonald House program.”
Marriage and family
led Temple Rocks to open her own agency in Cleveland.
“My agency wasn’t
very big. After 10 years, Golin bought me out. I came back to
Chicago and ran Golin’s consumer group. That’s when
the phone rang. Someone I knew at Dow said, ‘Are you interested
in pitching our business?’” The Human Element campaign
followed, along with her return to Dow in the C-level role in
Speaking from her experience,
Temple Rocks has advice for young marketers. Don’t worry
so much about your career path. It will all work out.
“So many people
are focused on their next job. Focus on the current job. Be really
good at what you do. Don't worry about other people. Everyone
is so competitive. That's such a waste of time,” she says.
Is she still enthusiastic
about Dow nearly two years after the launch of the Human Element
campaign? You bet.
“I try to find
the right balance with my peers, the people that work for me,
as well as the C-suite. I’m respectful of the Dow culture
and I’m always challenging and trying to find new ways to
do things. I think that won the respect of our CEO.”
Temple Rocks avoids
playing the critic or the revolutionary. “I say, ‘This
is really good, but there are things we can do differently.’
I try to suggest different approaches.” That’s the
right way to achieve great work.
Krauss is president of Market Strategy Group, based in Chicago,
and can be reached at Michael.Krauss@Mkt-strat.com