The copy is powerful in a straightforward way. It's about "Sodium bonding with chlorine, carbon bonding with oxygen..." The close ups of faces, the texture of waves, the energy of a waterfall. This is the shall we say, bonding of words, images and ideas that you don't usually see in corporate branding exercises.
As the presenter noted, proudly, not once was the Dow name spoken. Only a fleeting glimpse of the red diamond logo at the end. I watched it again, and couldn't help but notice the word 'element' (or 'elemental') occurs eight times, with the big picture painted in sweeping strokes, with hints of biology (synapses) and lots of chemistry.
But branding is much more than stunning images and good copy. It's a positioning statement that has to leap across every 'synapse' and connect with the other communication efforts, to touch the lives of everyone the organization comes into contact with.
Dow launched the campaign internally as well, bathing its building with giant images, revamping its web site, providing employees with the background to the concept and philosophy, and encouraging them to set up their own periodic table with pictures of people they work with.
It struck me as a campaign waiting to be integrated with other media --imagine employees creating their own human element posters, and uploading them to Flickr. Imagine them being able to tell their own Human element stories in podcasts, or on YouTube. I bet those stories would be as powerful and sincere as anything its agency FCB could come up with. Wouldn't that be the the proof of branding via the human element?
In summary: Don't get me wrong. It is a terrific case study. But a global company telling a global story to a global audience just can't afford to not engage it's own people.
This was funny: The presenter asked us what came to our minds first when we watched the commercial. One person raised her hand and said, "It made me wonder what Dow had done wrong, and was trying to cover up." Another said he was trying to calculate the cost of each of those marvelous segments of video!
On a related note: Paul Argenti, management guru who gave the keynote at the the IABC Foundation lunch today opened his remarks with a blistering analysis of why strategic communications is needed so badly. People are extremely cynical of communications, because of business communication failures from the likes of BP, KPMG, Tyco, Enron etc. "Transparency is a strategy and a condition," he noted.
Translated: skip the tag lines, and bring back that human element!