By Mel Durupt

Silver Leaf Awards logo          Alberta Securities Commission logo        Edelman Logo

In our 2017 Silver Leaf Awards profile series we’re sharing insights from the Calgary communicators behind the winning submissions. Edelman Canada and Alberta Securities Commission (ASC) won an Award of Excellence in the Advertising Campaigns category. Jessica Fralick, Edelman and Nicole Tuncay, ASC share more on their award-winning campaign.

  1. Can you briefly explain what your campaign was about and what outcomes you hoped to achieve through it?

In 2017, the Alberta Securities Commission (ASC) wanted to change how we approached our investor education campaign for Fraud Prevention Month. Instead of a traditional campaign, we partnered with Edelman and executed a bold stunt, using guerrilla marketing tactics, turning the result into an earned media story and online content. Our campaign grabbed the attention of Albertans and showed them that anyone can get scammed.

Using the red flags of investment fraud, we advertised for, and held, a fake real-estate investment seminar featuring a fictitious financier and investment firm. Midway through the seminar, we revealed that it was a scam and highlighted how participants can protect themselves from fraud. We also shared a video of the true story of an Albertan businessman who took his own life after being defrauded for more than $300,000 through an investment scam. The seminar and story illustrated that investment fraud really could happen to anyone, with devastating effects.

We produced a video of the scam process and event to share our story with the rest of the province. This province wide media campaign garnered over 14 million impressions, 60 media stories and achieved 100% key message pull through. Our limited funds allowed for a small promotion of the video on Facebook and we amplified our message through online influencers.

  1. How did you decide what success looked like?

The measurement metrics were set using benchmarks from previous year’s campaigns. However, the main goal of the campaign was to raise awareness, change investing behaviour and tell a story that would resonate with Albertans.

  1. What challenges did you overcome along the way?

We only had one month to create the scam, company and all assets and only 2 weeks to advertise the campaign to get people to attend the seminar. Because of CASL legislation, we were not able to send email invites, so all of our outreach was through digital advertisements. After a slow start to registrations, we added some advertising tactics, including at-home flyer distribution, to hit our event registration target of 50. Our final registration count was 48 people.

  1. What were the biggest ‘wins’? Was there anything that worked particularly well?

There was a concern that the people in attendance at the seminar would be upset that it was a scam. Our intention was not to make anyone feel foolish, but to achieve a lasting impact through education.

In the middle of the seminar, our actor revealed to the audience that they were not at a real investment seminar. He explained to them that the Alberta Securities Commission put on the event to educate Albertans. Nearly all attendees stayed behind after the seminar to talk to representatives from the ASC. We were happy with the response of those in attendance and their positive feedback on the event.

  1. Silver leaf awards celebrate excellence in business communication. What does it mean to you to have your efforts recognized this way?

We are thrilled to be recognized among our peers in business communications. It validates the efforts of the team that worked tirelessly to execute this project and ensure that Albertans are informed of the red flags of investment fraud.

  1. Are there any key lessons or insights related to this project would you like share with other professional communicators?

Always base your plans around insights. We created this program around three insights:

  • No one thinks that they would fall for a scam – we were trying to educate people who didn’t think that they were susceptible to fraud. Telling them was only going so far, we knew showing them would have a much greater effect.
  • We know in a bad economy, desperation can breed victims – the economy in Alberta is bleak.
  • Real-life stories make a bigger impact – We wanted to tell real stories in our campaign, so we used a real-life victim story in video format at the event to transition from the con to the reveal.

Thank you to Jessica and Nicole for your time responding to our questions!

To learn more about the Silver Leaf Award winners click here.

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