How many of you work at companies that are coming up on a corporate milestone? Has your company been around 10 years? 20? 60? You might think that celebrating your company’s 15th anniversary is silly but Kathy Button Bell of global technology and engineering giant Emerson would beg to differ.

On March 24, Kathy shared stories from her most recent marketing campaign, which celebrated Emerson’s 125th anniversary, with the St. Louis Chapter of The CMO Club. According to Kathy, marketers should take advantage of every inflection point given to them to promote their brand, get their company written about in the press and launch a creative new campaign. Customers don’t care if it’s your 5th anniversary or your 75th. What’s important to customers is that you’re doing something innovative and interesting that relates specifically to them.

Capitalizing on Emerson’s 125th Anniversary

2015 represents Emerson’s 125th anniversary. To celebrate, Emerson launched a marketing campaign highlighting their devotion to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education. The theme is “I Love STEM” and the goal is to broaden Emerson’s reach to touch and inspire both a younger audience as well as a science-minded psychographic.

Initially, Kathy didn’t want to celebrate Emerson’s 125th anniversary. To her (and to many of us), milestones like 100, 150 and 200 felt much more significant. But she quickly changed her mind when she realized that the number of years was not the point. The point was capitalizing on an opportunity to celebrate her brand both internally amongst employees and externally with customers and the press.

To do this, Emerson teamed up with YouTube star, Hank Green. Hank is a self-proclaimed “Science Nerd”, highly followed musician, blogger and vlogger known for his YouTube channels VlogBrothers, CrashCourse and SciShow, which combined have nearly 8 million YouTube subscribers, 1 billion video views, and 2,500 videos.

Their first collaboration was a commercial launched during The Big Bang Theory. They used an existing Hank Green song called “I love Science” and hired his graphic design team to make their ad look like it came from his own YouTube channel. Authenticity was the overarching goal.

In addition to the Hank Green collaboration, Emerson promoted their 125th anniversary in a number of other ways:

  • Rang the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)
  • Flyers in the Wall Street Journal
  • Campaign in NY Times: Sexy = STEM + 125
  • Completed 35 media interviews in one week
  • was set up through RebelMouse – all content on the site is fed through social media so it feels very young and modern

Why should you bother celebrating company history and corporate milestones?

  • You should always take advantage of an inflection point when you have one – especially as a B2B company
  • It gives you an excuse to talk about yourself and to do something creative and avant-garde
  • Internally, it’s a great way to rally the troops – When employees think you’re cool and relevant/feel cool themselves, that’s HUGE