VMware nearly eliminated single-use plastics across its global offices after the tech giant collaborated with AHA on its “Earth Day 2018” employee engagement campaign. Now the campaign has earned international recognition— winning a gold award from B2B Marketing for Best Employee Engagement Programme.

The campaign’s mission was to mobilize and engage all of VMware’s 20,000 employees worldwide to work together to eliminate single-use plastics. So, we tapped into VMware’s strong engineering culture with the message “CTRL ALT DELETE: Control consumption, choose alternatives and delete single-use plastics.”

The campaign goals were clear:

  • Increase employee turnout at VMware’s annual Earth Day event
  • Generate employee excitement about VMware’s sustainability efforts
  • Provide a rich engagement experience to deepen employee commitment to sustainability
  • Change employee attitudes and behaviors regarding single-use plastic materials

To connect, we needed to speak the employees’ language. We studied the company’s internal communications and social networks. We observed how employees spoke with each other and identified what got them excited.

Our research inspired our creativity. We built promotional videos, memes, email blasts, GIFs, posters and T-shirts to stir excitement for the global event. Each participating VMware location received an “event-in-a-box” package with all the campaign materials as well as set-up instructions.

The results far outpaced our client’s expectations. More than simply sharing the campaign online, VMware employees were seen roving their offices, searching for single-use plastics to eliminate. The Earth Day event turnout tripled the previous year’s, with approximately 15,000 employees participating—nearly 75% of the company’s global workforce. Amazingly, VMware nearly eliminated single-use plastics from its offices worldwide, and C-suite executives lauded the effort while asking for “more like this.”

The campaign’s results were dramatic:

  • 3x increase in employee turnout at VMware’s Earth Day event compared with 2017
  • 15,000 participants—nearly 75% of the global workforce
  • Reports of employees hunting in groups for ways to eliminate single-use plastics
  • Near elimination of single-use plastics at offices worldwide

“This Earth Day campaign brought more employee engagement than we’ve seen to date,” said Natasha Tuck, LEED AP senior sustainability manager for VMware. “We’re always thrilled when we can connect the dots between the work our employees do every day and sustainability. The ‘Control, Alt, Delete’ Earth Day message resonated and was a playful way to raise awareness and encourage positive behaviors. We nearly eliminated single-use plastics at our offices globally thanks to the momentum that was garnered.”

The campaign was part of an effort announced in 2016 by VMware to reach carbon neutrality by 2020.  The company achieved that goal in 2018, two years ahead of schedule. Today, its technology is used in the banking, health care, government, retail, telecommunications, manufacturing and transportation industries to increase efficiency and reduce environmental impact. According to VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger, the company’s virtualization technology has helped customers avoid 340 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions.