Clean Energy competition gets mainstream coverage

In the Ignite Clean Energy Business Presentation Competition (ICE), entrepreneurs compete for a chance to put their innovative clean-energy technologies to work.

In the Ignite Clean Energy Business Presentation Competition (ICE), entrepreneurs compete for a chance to put their innovative clean-energy technologies to work.

It aims to raise awareness about such technologies and stimulate the progressive clean-energy industry in New England by getting "the top technologies out of the labs and into functioning, sustainable companies," says Linda Plano, ICE chair. This year, the MIT-affiliated contest wanted to raise its profile outside of the academic venue.

Strategy

Bell Pottinger USA (BPUSA) took on the task pro bono. The goal was to transform a covert event into a mainstream, publicly accessible business competition. It also wanted to raise brand recognition and overall public awareness for the organization. "People thought this was only related to MIT, and... we had to make sure it was clear this was also for startups and entrepreneurs with great technology," says Jessica Francisco, BPUSA associate on the account.

Tactics

BPUSA hired 400 Communications to redesign the Web site and logo, and recruited high-profile political officials, including the state secretary of the executive office of energy and environmental affairs, to kick off the event. After finalists had been determined, the agency sent out hometown releases and planned the final event. "[For] traditional media, [it] became a business story and not so much an environmental story," Francisco notes. "And we found ourselves pitching the general public to come to the event."

Results

Teams, as hoped, included students, professional startups, and entrepreneurs, and 300 to 400 people attended the final event. The winning team, RSI, received hundreds of orders for its product. The effort generated more than 30 media hits, including BusinessWeek and The Boston Herald, and elevated the competition to the mainstream.

Future

BPUSA will serve as AOR for the 2008 competition.

PR team: Energy SIG of the MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge (Cambridge, MA) and Bell Pottinger USA (Boston)

Campaign: Ignite Clean Energy Business Presentation Competition

Duration: January to May 2007

Budget: $150,000 ($10,000 for event planning)

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