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The Challenge

Natural oil resources are becoming increasingly valuable due to their scarcity and high volumes being needed in ever more regions across the world, particularly in developing countries. Hence, the market for exploration of crude oil and natural gas is steadily becoming more competitive, especially in the Arabian Gulf region. In 2009, for example, the Arabian Gulf region produced on average 23.6 million barrels of oil per day, equivalent to 30 per cent of world production, underlining the importance of the market for the world supply of natural oil resources.

Wintershall Holding GmbH, part of the BASF Group, is Germany's largest producer of crude oil and natural gas. The company has been active in the exploration and production of these natural resources for more than 75 years. Having previously focused on other regions including for instance Europe and Russia, the company aimed to increase exploration activities in the Arabian Gulf. In line with the company's ambitions to expand its operations in the Middle East, Wintershall opened a new office in Abu Dhabi, underlining the importance that the company attributes to the emirate as one of the most significant centres of oil and gas operations in the Gulf region.

Wintershall's involvement in the United Arab Emirates dates back several decades with activities in Dubai, Ras Al Khaimah and Sharjah. The company intended to become more actively involved in long-term upstream projects in the Gulf region, but faced the issue of being much less widely know than for example in Europe and other Western markets. Hence, despite their already established presence in the region, the opening of the Abu Dhabi office was an important opportunity to raise awareness about the company with the regional audience, including relations to governments as well as national oil companies and partners. This issue being the main challenge, the communications campaign additionally had to take into account that Wintershall's local competitors have a monopoly, which puts them in a very strong position, and enjoy a positive public image.

In addition, being relatively new to the region with less experience in media campaigns than in other established markets, Wintershall also required regional media consultancy services. These were intended mainly to help determine which Arabic media outlets should be targeted in the realm of this campaign, in order for the key messages to be communicated to Arabic-speaking decision-makers of the country.

bridge:media's approach

bridge:media's services for Wintershall were provided at short notice as an ad-hoc communications and consultancy campaign on the occasion of the launch event for the Wintershall office in Abu Dhabi. Services included amongst other things the preparation and translation of a press release in English and Arabic to announce the event. Through a distribution of the press release to key national media of the UAE and to major publications across the Arabian Gulf region, the launch event was communicated to a wide audience.

Moreover, an interview with the CEO of the company for publication in leading national dailies was arranged on the occasion of the opening of Wintershall's new office in Abu Dhabi. The interview was published several times in major Arabic newspapers of the United Arab Emirates. Consultancy services included advice on suitable topics and wording to meet the requirements of regional audiences and press, as well as intense media relations services to liaise with relevant editors.

As a follow-up service to the event, press monitoring and documentation services for all press coverage resulting from the communications campaign were provided for Wintershall, including analyses and summaries in English language of the articles that were published in Arabic.


The goal of achieving a high level of publicity and media coverage in Arabic language for the launch of Wintershall's Abu Dhabi office was reached successfully. On the one hand, the ad-hoc communications campaign managed to make Wintershall known to a wider regional audience by distributing a press release on the event in English and Arabic. In addition, decision-makers of the country were also reached through the press release that was sent to leading Arabic media outlets known to address a high-level audience.

Despite the ad-hoc communications campaign being organised at short notice, bridge:media managed to conduct and place the interview with Wintershall's CEO successfully in Arabic publications known to address the company's target audience, namely key decision-makers of the country, including representatives of national oil companies and partners that Wintershall aimed to reach through this campaign. Reliably delivering on the promised results, bridge:media managed to support Wintershall in getting increased access to key media of the UAE and the Arabian Gulf region.

The ad-hoc communications campaign on the occasion of the opening of Wintershall's new Abu Dhabi office led to increased attention from both a wider public and key decision-makers of the country. The message communicated to both target groups allowed for increased attention being drawn to Wintershall as a company that is not only a major European player but also very successful in the Middle Eastern market and that values the Arabian Gulf as one of the most significant centers of oil and gas operations.