27 March 2009

Rebranding - the Norwegian way

StatoilHydro is the largest oil company in the Nordic regions, it employs approximately 34000 people to explore for and produce oil. Of those people about 1000 are geologists and geophysicists who actually find the hydrocarbon and try to understand its distribution in the subsurface. A further 6 or 700 are reservoir engineers; they try to understand the flow of the fluid through the subsurface into the well bore. There are about 1200 facilities and “top side” engineers, who control what happens when it gets to the surface. That's a total of about 2000 technical people which begs the obvious question...

Who are the remaining 32000 people and what the fuck do they do all day?

Well I think I have the answer, they work in the branding department...

Statoil was formed in 1972 to look after Norway’s newly emerging oil interests and, as far as NOCs (National Oil Companies) go they have pretty much set the standard for how it should be done. Around the same time the government also facilitated the development of a second major, homegrown oil company Norsk Hydro. If you know anything about the oil business you will appreciate the irony of a oil company having “water” in its title, especially when they are not very good at exploration. Norsk Hydro have a much longer and somewhat checkered history, including some pretty hefty collaboration with the Nazi’s trying to make heavy water for the A’ bomb at Rjukan during the second world war. Fortunately, Kurt Douglas came along and put a stop to all that nonsense.

Just over two years ago Statoil and the oil part of Norsk Hydro merged to form a very big oil ompany which was imaginatively named StatoilHydro. The name was put forward as a temporary one while the 32ooo people got busy trying to come up with a new one. The world waited with baited breath. Would it be something pseudo latin and naff like Centrica? Would they get rid of the State bit that had obvious, socialist undertones? Would they take a leaf out of BP’s book and get rid of the “oil” part, which is not necessarily great in world were fossil fuels are seen as the enemy (at least until you need to drive to the supermarket).

As the tension rose and the deadline approached a few hints started to leak out, the left wing government said that it should retain “statoil” somewhere prominent in the name, although no one was really sure what it actually had to do with them. What was left of Norsk Hydro (Aluminum and A’ bombs) said that they couldn’t use Hydro. So after much pontification and navel gazing the new name will be…. Statoil!

Pretty handy for any of the ex-statoil employees who still have their old business cards, no need for new ones.

So that explains what the 32000 people have been doing for the last 2 years, although it does leave me with two questions:

1. What are they going to do now?
2. What happens to all the stationary etc that gets made redundant every time someone thinks it would be good to re-brand?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Slight over-exaggeration John, don’t you think? 32,000 people in the Re-branding department, It think not, you completely missed out the 16,412 people in the “Justification of our positions” department, people who spend their entire time organizing courses on “Justification symposium courses and conference’s”. I think you’ll find, money well spent!

There are also 3, 934 people in the “Busting contractors ass’s, over minor comma entries in seemingly un-important database text files, while missing the point of the entire survey in the first place department”

There is also, you will find at least half a dozen, people in the first department “We like one space after full stops in contractors reports” and the second department “ We like two spaces after full stops”, although they are unable to comment as they are on self justification course this week, and next!