THE GOLD STANDARD AWARD FOR CORPORATE FINANCIAL COMMUNICATIONS
The Winner: Edelman Japan: VINCI Airports – The Largest Infrastructure Privatization. Ever.
Kansai International Airport (KIX), opened in 1994, is a marvel of engineering, built on a man-made island in Osaka Bay. But by 2014 the debt of more than $10 billion created from its construction threatened to put parent company, the New Kansai International Airport Company (NKIAC), under water. The Japanese government and local authorities decided to put the operating rights of both NKIAC’s airports, KIX and Osaka International, out to tender.
Effectively the world’s largest infrastructure privatisation, the project was valued at $20 billion over 44 years and required a Japanese partner. The size and conditions of the tender were beyond the experience of most Japanese companies and many lobbied to have the terms changed.
France’s VINCI Airports, manager of 23 airports at the time and part of the world’s largest construction conglomerate, the VINCI Group, was interested.
Its campaign, handled by Edelman, had an immediate objective of countering opposition to the tender and its terms, and it had to persuade a Japanese company to be its partner. Leading financial firm ORIX came on board.
Another objective emerged when the consortium was the only successful bid to move to the second stage. VINCI then needed plans to deflect potential criticism that there was only one bidder, and to reinforce the idea that the government had been right to go ahead with the tender.
Edelman conducted media research into the tone and level of interest in the project, as well as social media research into the general community and business sentiment.
This was a sensitive programme: Edelman wanted to ensure the market was informed about the strengths of VINCI Airports and its credentials as a candidate, but it did not want to draw too much attention as that might risk a backlash against selling the operating rights of an important national asset to a non-Japanese company; at the same time, it did not want to draw undue attention to the process in order to limit criticism there was only one bidder.
The strategy was simple: leveraging influential Japanese media to provide clear, focused information on VINCI Airports and its impressive track record, and showing how it could contribute economically, socially and culturally to the region.
Once the consortium had won the bid, Edelman ran an active outreach campaign with key media, including trips to airports managed by VINCI Airports in Portugal and Cambodia.
Even after the deal was won in December 2015, its careful media management ensured that coverage continued to focus on the contribution VINCI could make to the airports and the region. More than 450 articles and 30 TV clips have been generated since February 2015 – not bad for an intentionally low-key campaign!
The Award was presented to Carolyn Hammond, Director, Edelman Hong Kong on behalf of AmCham by Nestle’s Head of Corporate Affairs Jonathan Dong (above right)
For more information about AmCham-China, please go to www.amchamchina.org