Siemens IT Solutions and Services and Atos Origin Merger and Atos Launch in Bulgaria
In July 2011, the leading global ICT vendors Siemens IT Solutions and Services (SIS) and Atos Origin merged into one company called Atos. While SIS has been operating in Bulgaria for many years, with reputation of a leading technology company, Atos has had no market presense and zero brand awareness.
Therefore, Ardency Consulting and SIS' management identified the risk of confusion and uncertainty among customers, employees and partners as primary issue in communications. It was agreed upon that it is essential to communicate timely clear information to these stakehloders while at the same time ensuring positive media response. Primary success criteria was to be the timely communication to customers, smooth transition with employees and positive media relations, leading to Atos brand awareness and brand positionining as an ICT leader in Bulgaria.
The launch presented an excellent opportunity to jump-start change communications and to initiate first steps for corporate positioning of Atos as an ICT leader.
Ardency Consulting conducted extensive research on the Bulgaria market position of SIS vs. major competitors, Atos' current global and European positioning and audited the company's media perception.
SIS management interviews showed that their primary worry was about customers and employees' reaction to the merger because of differences between German and French corporate cultures. Ardency Consulting's team used the research to develop communications strategy, planning, key messages and proof points for all stakeholders.
Three weeks before D-Day, Ardency Consulting presented SIS with communication strategy and launch planning in three stages - pre-launch, D-Day launch and post-launch:
Pre-launch: in the weeks leading to the D-Day, SIS would engage with stakeholders on reactive basis only, agency will be press office and focus on developing messages, design and production of collaterals, press materials and office rebranding.
Launch day would be the climax of communications with a stakeholder-specific communication program which will include employees' welcoming into rebranded offices, information packages sent to clients and partners by 9:00 AM, press event to take over share of media mind, management-employee meeting with live video greetings from Atos' CEO and one-to-one personal calls with key executives. Ardency Consulting developed a dedicated hour-by-hour D-Day CEO activities plan, including:
- Employees welcome e-mail
- Most valuable clients phone calls
- Press briefing
- One-to-one media interviews
- Atos' CEO global video greetings' streaming for employees
- Employees cocktail
Post-launch would include proactive media relations and targeted brand awareness advertising.
- New European IT champion is created
- Innovative ICT company with ambitious growth targets
- Number 1 European IT player by 2013
Timing and execution were of primary importance for the succesful launch - in a strict order, employees must be welcomed into whole new company office, partners and customers must have been notified by early morning on launch day, with media outreach following later on same day. All activities must be in sync with global Atos launch communications, which were to be executed same day- Monday, July 4, 2011, in more than 40 countries. Ardency Consulting produced all information materials, including new stationery and office branding as well as press and information kits and CEO letters and speeches copywriting for the different stakeholders. Ardency Consulting's team worked within very short deadlines to organize the brand transition in two weeks, control all communications about the pending merger and at the same time to execute and manage integrated communications to all stakeholders in a single day.
Welcome to Atos Bulgaria!
It was essential for employees to be welcomed in office premises, rebranded with the new corporate identity and values. Ardency Consulting worked after working hours on Friday and into the weekend before launch day to ensure that no employee will be present during rebranding. This included: innovative stairways stickers with Atos' 17 corporate messages, office doors and internal space branding, mobile rollover banners, construction of a press event stage, office signs and decoration.
On D-Day, every employee found on his/her desk a personalized welcome package that included a CEO welcome letter, company profile, history, vision and values, t-shirt and a personalized coffee mug. Also, there was a welcome e-mail in their inboxes from Atos Bulgaria CEO. Employees attended the media briefing, a live screening of Atos CEO's global welcome greetings from Paris, and a cocktail in the end of the work day.
Meet Atos Bulgaria!
Clients, partners and suppliers must be informed before the news about the merger appears in media, therefore information packages with personalized letter from Atos Bulgaria CEO were in advance arranged to be delivered with express delivery to every client, partner and supplier's C-level executives office by 9:00 AM on launch day. Key clients' CEOs were personally called by Atos Bulgaria's CEO.
Atos Origin and Siemens IT Solutions and Services establish the new European IT champion!
Before noon, entire Atos Bulgaria's team gathered to be greeted live by Atos' CEO. After this, the new company was introduced to media at a press briefing. Ardency Consulting has ensured attendance from all major general news, business, Internet, TV and ICT media. Journalists received press kits with press release, corporate information, fact sheet and a give-away.
On-going stakeholder relations
In the following 6 months and beyond regular news releases were pushed to media. Within a month of the launch, an brand awareness advertising campaign was executed.
The launch was great success with employees and media. Client feedback was that employees were really interested in and happy with the new office rebranding and Atos EMEA headquarters acknowledged that Bulgaria launch was the best launch in the region.
There were more than 90 publications in all major media, including front pages on leading business daily PARI and Computerworld weekly. One-to-one interviews for TV, business web site, and PARI daily were arranged for Atos Bulgaria CEO. The news received considerable attention beyond specialized ICT media - about 16% of publications appeared in business, 57% - in general news and 27% - in ICT media.
The launch received highly positive media coverage, focusing on the positioning and key messages, developed by Ardency Consulting with headlines: "Siemens IT Solutions and Services and Atos Origin create the biggest IT services company in Europe"; "Atos will play leading role in the IT market"; "The merger of Atos Origin and Siemens IT Solutions and Services creates new IT giant"; "Atos Origin and Siemens IT Solutions and Services create new global IT leader"'; "Atos - new leading global IT company" and "The new IT giant was revealed - Atos".
In the seven months since the introduction of the new brand Atos Bulgaria has been mentioned in more than 400 publications in the Bulgarian media and editors of ICT media approached Ardency Consulting with requests for Atos Bulgaria's management opinion on diverse IT issues.
Four months after the launch, Bulgarian government announced a number of tenders for building the Bulgarian e-government. Of all companies, only Hewlett-Packard and Atos were described as "reputable international ICT leaders" in media. Media has started to recognize Atos as an ICT leader and an interesting and important company to proactively report on, which proves that the initial work on introducing Atos in Bulgaria, organized and managed by Ardency Consulting, has been successful.