UTS Library

BHP Colorbond: Art On Steel


BHP Steel

PR Company: 

Stellar Concepts

Award Category: 

Award Type: 

Call Number: 

2001 I 19



Executive Summary: 

Art on Steel is a community arts initiative launched by BHP Steel, to commemorate the production of the 5 millionth tonne of COLORBOND® steel and to raise awareness and funds for the State & Territory Emergency Service (S/TES).<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

17 of <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Australias leading artists created 21 artworks using COLORBOND® steel cut from the 5 millionth tonne produced in Victoria in January 2001.  These artworks then travelled by roadshow to 11 Australian cities, April June, 2001.  The exhibition stopped for 2 5 days in each city with opening events at every location. 

Entry to the exhibition was free with high-traffic venues selected resulting in a mix of shopping centres, museums and galleries.

The creation of Art on Steel arose from BHP Steels desire to thank the Australian public for their support of COLORBOND® steel through 5 million tonnes and 34 years.  The strapline Strengthening Your Community was created for the program placing emphasis in all aspects of the projects promotion and execution, on giving something back to Australias regional and metropolitan communities.

The program culminated with a celebration dinner where the artworks were auctioned.  A total of $517,000 was raised with 100% of proceeds going directly towards initiatives to train volunteers at the SES.

Situation Analysis: 

The opportunity presented by BHP CSA to Stellar* Concepts was how best to commemorate COLORBOND® steel.  More specifically the challenge was how best to increase the products brand equity by highlighting the following:<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

  • The production of the 5 millionth tonne of COLORBOND® steel
  • 34 years of success of as an iconic and innovative Australian-made product (as highlighted by the Tin Symphony in the Sydney Olympics Opening Ceremony)
  • The enormous contribution made by COLORBOND® steels employees and customers and the architects, builders and manufacturers who have championed this product so successfully throughout <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Australias history
  • To balance the commercial product focus by introducing a non-profit beneficiary that ideally shared the same brand values and community support as COLORBOND steel

In conjunction with BHP CSA Stellar* Concepts solution to the presented opportunity was to develop a nation-wide community arts initiative, Art on Steel, which presented the brand in an original, creative, media-friendly manner.  It presented opportunities for the promotion of the brand nationally through a free public arts roadshow.  It gave room for involvement from BHP Steel staff and customers and through the employment of both celebrity artists such as Rolf Harris and Pro Hart and credible arts icons such as John Olsen and Tim Storrier presented tremendous media value. 


Research has been an important part of the Art on Steel program from the beginning.  More specifically it has involved the following:

1. Cause-marketing program: to identify a suitable non-profit partner for the program.  Criteria included:<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

  • Must be Australian and have national presence
  • Must have involvement in regional & metropolitan communities
  • Must have synergy with COLORBOND® steel, ideally encapsulating the themes of shelter, protection and security. The S/TESs selection was based on their role as one of Australias largest national volunteer organisations responsible for providing shelter for people in times of crises, fitting well with COLORBOND® steels core utility as a roofing product.

2. Brand research: evaluation of COLORBOND® steels brand equity as extremely high.  Research showed that by adding personality to the brand this would further strengthen the brand equity and help illuminate its market leadership.

3. Media research: into most relevant media targets for program.

4. Post-project qualitative research program: being currently undertaken to qualify the impact of the Art on Steel program on the following:

  • Perception of the project and benefits to brand and SES
  • Perception of BHP Coated Steel Australias decision to run the project
  • Perception of media coverage generated
  • Opinions/suggestions on potential project extensions and additional leverage possibilities.

Target Policies: 

Clear identification of all key targets was provided by Stellar* from the beginning and included:<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

1. BHP CSA staff

  • Invited to events in each location
  • Local offices as speakers for each location and staff to man exhibition
  • Informed through internal emails re major announcements
  • Website created & updated after each event as information tool
  • Staff newsletter with regular updates of program
  • Publicly thanked & acknowledged at each event

2. BHP CSA customers

  • Invited to events in each location
  • Publicly thanked & acknowledged at each event

3. SES staff & volunteers

  • Invited to events in each location
  • Publicly thanked & acknowledged at each event
  • SES presence through volunteers and signage at each event

4. Media

  • Invited to events in each location
  • Given comprehensive media kits, photographs, CD roms
  • Dedicated publicists to look after them at each event
  • Exclusive angles given out to selected media

5. Artists

  • Invited to events in each state
  • Complementary invitation and transfers to final celebration dinner & auction
  • Publicity
  • Created Peoples Choice Award with prize money of $20,000 for winner
  • Given $5,000 commission to cover their costs

6. General Public

  • All events free of charge
  • Targeted through publicity and advertising campaign
  • Encouraged to vote in Peoples Choice Competition free of charge with 2 return business-class trip to <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Melbourne with accommodation and entry to final celebration dinner as prize

Communication Strategy: 

The basis of the Art on Steel program was its ability to communicate with all identified stakeholders and target publics.  This was achieved through a detailed and methodical management of the program by a core project team with critical steps to success as follows: <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

Selection of Artists:
A Committee consisting of heavyweight arts identities was set up by Stellar* Concepts to select 17 of <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Australias most significant artists who fit the following criteria:
  • Inclusion of celebrity/populist artists for media interest and wide-public appeal.
  • Must be at least one artist from all six states of Australian mainland.
  • Must be non-discriminatory of gender, age and ethnic background.

A list of participating artists attached.

Exhibition Designed:
A moveable exhibition installation was designed and manufactured again using steel as a theme and including the following:
  • Clear branding:  COLORBOND® steel, SES & Art on Steel
  • Modern portable steel stands to showcase 21 artworks, with individual lighting and artist profile
  • COLORBOND® steel stand featuring general information and photographs and video screen showing History of COLORBOND® steel & TV interviews about the event on a loop
  • SES stand featuring general information, recruitment info and photographs with  video screen showing compilation tape about the SES.
Event Materials:

See below under heading Materials.

National Tour:
The national touring exhibition was an opportunity to engage the broader community and BHP COLORBOND® steel employees & customers around Australia in the celebration of 5 million tonnes.  It was also importantly a vehicle to engage local, regional and state media - as well as national tour 11 cities visited.
Both the exhibition & events were held in busy public spaces, eg community art centres or major shopping centres or other accessible spaces.   Exhibitions were displayed for between 2 - 5 full days in each city.
Partnering the Cause:
The SESs involvement in every part of the project was an essential part of the program and included the following:
  • Signage
  • Charity desk/booth
  • Info on SES handed out/volunteers sign up
  • Volunteer presence at each exhibition & event
  • SES Volunteers & staff present at exhibitions and co-hosted opening events
  • Mentioned on promotional flyer & website & all advertising & PR
  • People's Choice Award
  • Limited edition prints for sale to raise money
  • Raffle ticket sales to win 2 x artworks
Australia-wide Celebrations:
  • Exhibition opening held in each state for 150 - 500 guests
  • Events hosted by senior BHP executives & SES representatives
  • Guests include BHP staff, customers & media, SES volunteers
  • Cocktail parties with live entertainment at the exhibitions
  • VIP opened each event, short speeches & videos shown about the SES & the History of COLORBOND® steel
  • Professional tap dancers performed at each event in the style of the Tap Dogs dressed in SES uniforms
Peoples Choice Award:
This was promoted as an interactive tool to encourage and involve the community and general public.  It involved the following elements:
  • People were invited to vote for their favourite artwork
  • The voting form is also a competition entry form to encourage participation
  • Prize was a trip for 2 to Art on Steel Celebration Dinner & Auction
  • The winning artist announced at Charity Ball
Grand Finale - Melbourne 
Art on Steel Celebration Dinner & Auction - glamorous & high profile
  •  500 @ $200 per head.  BHP hosted the dinner, so the full $200 ticket price was a donation therefore 100% tax deductible
  • Invitation list included A-list, celebrities, serious art buyers, BHP staff & customers, SES representatives
  • Artworks displayed & auctioned
  • Performance by Tap Dogs
  • BHP budgeted to buy one artwork to encourage buyers to bid up
  • Auctioneer:  Justin Miller, Chairman of Sothebys Australia
  • Peoples Choice winning artist announced & presented with award
  • Arts Committee and artists were present
  • Guests invited by BHP Steel President 
Dedicated website linked to the BHP Steel website included, eg. 
  • All event/exhibition information
  • view artworks
  • make donations
  • vote for Peoples Choice Winner
  • purchase prints
  • auction absentee bidding forms
  • opportunity to hotlink to Cause website
  • website constantly updated with results, pictures of each event, etc
  • Also project was included in various other online publications and event guide 

Time Line:


July October

  • Concept developed and refined


  • Concept agreed & budget confirmed
  • Committee appointed
  • Cause identified & confirmed
  • Artists selected


  • Artists & invited & commissioned
  • Exhibition dates & venues confirmed
  • Exhibition designed


January 24

  • 5 millionth tonne rolls off at WesternPort - Media Launch of project
  • Artists receive COLORBOND

March 31

  • Completed artworks returned

May 1-June 13 

  • National Tour

June 14 

  • Art on Steel Celebration Dinner & Auction in Melbourne


By undertaking a six-week national roadshow that visited 11 cities and was viewed by 10,000 communication with all stakeholders was achieved to optimum effect.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

A crucial part of the project was the comprehensive public relations campaign.  An example of some of the PR angles were:

  • 5 millionth tonne - BHP milestone
  • Announcement of the project
  • Announcement of the partnership with the SES
  • Appointment of exec committee
  • Participating artists
  • Creation of artworks work in progress
  • Main exhibition opening
  • Interstate exhibitions & functions
  • Cause and Gala Charity Ball
  • Ongoing SES stories
  • Charitable donation/s & how funds are used - ongoing

Press kits were sent out on paper and via CD rom.

Target Media Print:

National, regional, suburban & local newspapers

  • Arts media
  • Features - newspapers & magazines
  • Business, financial & business interest
  • Lifestyle, architecture, interiors & design
  • Regional press especially in BHP areas
  • Trade press
  • BHP Corporate External Affairs
  • Internal BHP communications

Target Media Radio:


  • News
  • Arts
  • Whats On
  • Current Affairs
  • Business
  • Community radio
  • Local radio on national tour and especially in BHP areas

Target Media TV:

  • News
  • Current Affairs, eg. 7.30 Report, Australian Story
  • Business, eg. Business Sunday
  • Arts, eg. The Arts Show
  • Local TV nationally, eg. WIN TV, <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Wollongong


  • More than doubled our original fundraising objective for the SES of $250,000 to $517,000
  • Feedback from BHP staff, customers and the general public was hugely positive and we are currently undertaking research to realise the effect of this project.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
  • Extraordinary publicity results nationally.  Whilst we are happy and pleased to acknowledge the PRIAs position paper on AVEs, in traditional terms the Art on Steel program generated $2.5M publicity for both the COLORBOND® steel brand and the SES.  This was a measure that BHP CSA insisted on us providing and we have consequently made an AVE evaluation in line with their request.
  • Finished under budget.


  • Running totals of funds raised were calculated, banked, recorded and reported to the SES and BHP CSA in each location<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
  • Publicity has been statistically evaluated (please see Karma audited evaluation reports)
  • Attendance figures for each event
  • Feedback from all stakeholders has been compiled and reported to BHP CSA
  • A qualitative market research program is currently being undertaken to measure programs effectiveness with all stakeholders