Category A10. B2B
Production EFEX  Zurich, SWITZERLAND
Name Company Position
Raul Serrat Serviceplan Suisse AG Executive Creative Direction
Ulrich Spiesshofer ABB Asea Brown Boveri Ltd Chief Executive Officer
Chris Sieder ABB Asea Brown Boveri Ltd Group Senior Vice President, Head of Corporate Communications
Nicolas Ziegler ABB Asea Brown Boveri Ltd Group Vice President, Head of Globals Brand Management und Corporate Events
Michael Kathe Serviceplan Suisse AG Creative Director
Reto Clement Serviceplan Suisse AG Creative Director
Henry Clarke Serviceplan Suisse AG Copywriter
Jan Krohn Serviceplan Suisse AG Copywriter
Denis Schwarz Serviceplan Suisse AG Art Director
Tizian Lienhard Serviceplan Suisse AG Graphic Design

Why is this work relevant for PR?

“YuMi & Bocelli: A Perfect Harmony” was a groundbreaking demonstration of the power of collaborative technology. ABB’s YuMi is an industrial robot that is helping transform small parts manufacturing around the world. By placing YuMi in the role of conductor at a live orchestral performance, we showed a profoundly human side to an often feared and misunderstood technology. The campaign challenged the belief that people and robots are incompatible, and showed that whether it’s between people, or people and the technologies that serve them, our greatest feats are those we achieve together.


ABB is one of the world’s leading developers of industrial robotic technologies. The brand is at the forefront of the fourth industrial revolution, where digital technologies and artificial intelligence are enabling new forms of work. Our brief was to create an emotionally rich product demonstration of ABB’s YuMi, to assuage the growing fear of robots as a malicious threat to people’s jobs and livelihoods. We needed to show what is meant by the term ‘collaborative technologies’, and prove that there are, and will always be, human roles for which robots will never offer a substitute. To truly explore YuMi’s collaborative abilities, we needed a context antithetical to the industrial settings in which the robot was designed to operate. An orchestral concert was a natural choice – an event where skill, experience and emotion combine to achieve something that robots and other industrial technologies are seldom associated with: beauty.

Describe the creative idea

Our idea was to use a highly traditional artistic context to demonstrate the collaborative capabilities of an industrial robot. By placing YuMi in the role of conductor at a full orchestral concert, we would show a new dimension to an industrial technology, and challenge the ‘either / or’ dichotomy that permeates the discussion of humans and robots at work. A live performance was chosen over a pre-recorded concert, the narrower margin for error heightening the event’s entertainment value. The appearance of star tenor Andrea Bocelli amplified the concert and enhanced its credibility. Our product demonstration was unique in that it showed YuMi’s limitations as much as his capacities. Whilst the robot’s intuitive learning abilities meant it succeeded in recreating a conductor’s fluid movements, what was proven was that the true subtlety of the task lay far beyond the range of any technology.

Describe the strategy

Our strategy was to use an authentic product demonstration to make a valid and original contribution to the discussion around robots at work. We sought to give our audience of music lovers and industrial leaders a new take on the dichotomy between humans and technology that collaborative technologies like YuMi are challenging, and explore how this relates to work, performance, and art. Finally, we needed to prove ABB’s communication line on robots in the workplace - that they can relieve us of dangerous and repetitive tasks, to give humans more opportunity for the roles at which we truly excel: innovation and invention. 

Describe the execution

During the 2017 International Robotics Festival, Maestro Andrea Colombini, director of the Lucca Philarmonic Orchestra, taught Yumi to conduct, guiding the robot’s two arms to follow his motion in great detail. The movements were then fine-tuned using ABB software, ensuring perfect synchronisation with the music. The process took place over just a few days of intense rehearsal. During a live gala charity concert entitled “A breath of hope: from Stradivarius to the robot”, Yumi accurately recreated the movements and gestural nuances of Colombini, conducting the orchestra and star tenor Andrea Bocelli in front of 800 guests. The whole experience was filmed and distributed to media, and the resulting video showed the powerful combination of technology and human creativity. The event was highly promoted on , with frequent updates to feature fresh content.

List the results

The campaign was a huge media success: within 2 days, 300 articles appeared in publications across 52 countries, in media spanning from industrial to business to music-oriented outlets; the global reach exceeded 673 millions potential readers, mostly in the US. 99% of the videos contained an ABB message. The tone was almost exclusively positive, enhancing ABB’s reputation. The video was viemed 85,000 times on ABB’s Youtube channel, a record for the company. Blogs and articles promoted on were viewed over 22,000 times. The total social media engagement was 2.36 million. The campaign delivered ABB its highest global media awareness since the company began systematic media monitoring, and 99% of articles carried at least one message including: • robots are unlikely to replace conductors, • however, Yumi reproduced the nuances of a conductor to a previously unthinkable degree, • collaboration between humans and robots can work perfectly. All of the media for this campaign was earned; the ROI (calculated on article size and price per page/ banner in the relevant markets) is estimated at almost 600,000 EURO.