Bartman's innovative tactics fuel BP's branding

On some topics, everyone seems to have an opinion, from the presidential election to the best coffee. However, Linda Bartman has made a career of promoting products that consumers probably have not thought twice about.

On some topics, everyone seems to have an opinion, from the presidential election to the best coffee. However, Linda Bartman has made a career of promoting products that consumers probably have not thought twice about.

“It's about creating relevance for the consumer,” says Bartman, marketing communications director at global energy giant BP. “More than that, it's about explaining the [product] experience, when consumers already incorporate it into a routine and [later] don't think about it.”

Bartman is responsible for 360 communications plans directed to consumers, in addition to b-to-b and b-to-c strategy for promoting the BP brand to 10,500 retail sites.

Under her lead, BP recently launched the company's first lifestyle campaign, “Younger for Longer.” The effort promotes the new gasoline with its proprietary additive Invigorate alongside lifestyle messages that consumers are already familiar with, such as exercise and healthy eating habits.

The effort is rolling out over the course of five years, with three athlete spokespeople, an interactive Web site, and a mobile marketing tour, where consumers can ride surfboard simulators and run a virtual race.

Bartman's ability to create dialogue with consumers is rooted in an interest in learning about them. Not surprisingly, gathering data from focus groups is one of Bartman's favorite parts of the planning process.

“You always walk into a room with preconceived notions,” she explains, “but you more than likely will leave with a different [take].”

Prior to working at BP, Bartman held several posts in highly specialized industries, from the Aviation Aftermarket Company (AAR), a global supplier to the aviation/aerospace industry, to General Electric Rail Services.

“I've done marketing for a lot of commoditized products and services that are not sexy,” she notes. “But every position has had its own nuances. I've tried to learn from each and find new ways to do things.”

Bartman says she learned how to build a brand by connecting customers with service offerings at AAR, and at GE she sharpened her awareness of how to use an established brand to promote business.

Similarly, with her present PR team, Bartman is focused on creating consumer awareness about the established brand. Her success is due in large part to her ability to ask the right questions and bluntly communicate concerns, says Amy Kennedy, SVP at GolinHarris, AOR for BP US fuels.

“Invigorate was a big undertaking,” she adds. “[Bartman] continues to lead [the PR team] by creating a space for open honest dialogue… She's always open to new ideas.”

At BP, Bartman says she focuses on the “big ideas that [allow her to] break out of the confines of [traditional] marketing.” Her passion for creating cutting-edge communications platforms helps in this regard.

Kathy Seegebrecht, BP's US retail, brand, and advertising manager, notes Bartman's role in creating last year's campaign for Helios Power, where an online world of friendly, animated characters was brought to life at ALittleBetterGasStation.com. The idea was to give users a different perspective on fuels.

“Linda does a great job of breaking out of the box,” says Seegebrecht, “Her innovative approach is a breath of fresh air at BP.”

2005-present
BP US Fuels, marcomms director

2004-2005
BP US Fuels, comms mgr.

2002-2004
GE Rail Services, corporate marcomms leader

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