As part of their efforts to make consumers, particularly millennials, aware of their commitment to cleaner energy, Shell launched the #makethefuture campaign. The company tasked Edelman with the job of giving millennials a reason to connect emotionally with Shell’s commitment to a sustainable future. We needed them to forget their prejudices about “big oil” and think differently about Shell.

The challenge of meeting with the energy needs of a world with a booming population is high up on the policy making agenda. But our research revealed that it wasn’t high on the list of things millennials cared about.

We needed to find a way to connect with a younger audience and make Shell’s commitment to the future immediate and authentic. Our polling showed that this group prioritised relationships, travel, technology and sustainability.


To draw a link between millennials’ priorities and the Shell brand, we sponsored polar explorer Robert Swan, OBE and his millennial son Barney to go on a journey across the inhospitable Antarctic. Their trip was the world’s first polar expedition attempted using exclusively renewable fuel, including Shell’s advanced biofuels.

We documented every step of the way, including humorous incidents such as trying to wash in -40°C.
Our team shared the clips from the journey across all major social platforms. Our coverage included live mobile maps and short-form content shared on social media. Through the campaign, we made Shell’s story relevant and human to audiences in the UK, India, Brazil and the US.


By bringing a sympathetic and very human face to the renewables debate and to the #makethefuture campaign we achieved the following results:

  • More than 33 million views for 44 individual items of content
  • More than 4.8 million constructive engagements across all social media platforms
  • 600 million reached through earned media.
  • 422 stories, all favorable and 92% of them including a mention of Shell
  • Audience members are 31% more likely to believe Shell is committed to cleaner fuels.
  • Positive attitudes towards the brand increased by 12%