Client: Alberta Forest Products Association

Love. Alberta. Forests.

The Project

Alberta is a world leader in sustainable forest management, but most Albertans aren’t even sure what “forest management” means. It’s obvious to people in the forest industry that harvesting trees is just a sliver of a long, careful cycle, but outside the industry, logging trucks might be the only part of their work anyone sees.

AFPA wanted to raise awareness of what Alberta’s forestry companies actually do and how a well-managed forest resource benefits Alberta. We worked with them to help secure funding and develop and execute a three-year public awareness campaign to do that. This case study includes the results to date (2019 only).

Goal

Educate Albertans on Alberta’s world-leading sustainable forest management policies and practices.

Results

Positive perceptions of Alberta’s forest industry increased by 10% after our first 6-week campaign flight. Opinion on more specific measures improved even more dramatically.

Key Insights

We kicked off this work with a province-wide research project that measured Albertans’ existing knowledge and perceptions. We found that very few people were actively opposed to the forest industry, but a large proportion of respondents placed themselves in the “neutral” and “don’t know” categories throughout the survey.

We also tested respondents’ knowledge of simple, verifiable facts about forest management practices and regulations in Alberta. Over half of respondents answered all five questions incorrectly, and another 36% only got one or two right.

Then we gave them the correct answers, and asked whether learning each fact affected their opinion. It did – for each fact we presented, between 71% and 77% of respondents said learning it made them more supportive.

Those results gave us a clear direction. Our audience wasn’t hostile, only unaware, and people were open to revising their opinion once they had some basic information. Our job was to give them that information in an upbeat, intuitive way.

Results

10% increase in overall support for Alberta’s forest industry

35Million+ total impressions

94% increase in agreement that Alberta’s forestry companies work to preserve/protect wildlife habitat

  • We measured Albertans’ opinions on multiple sub-topics related to the forest industry before and after the campaign. Our post-campaign results showed that public opinion on virtually all of these topics had improved – for example, we saw a 77% increase in agreement that Alberta forestry companies work to protect wildlife habitat and a 63% increase in agreement that they take their role as stewards of the forest very seriously.
  • Campaign ad performance exceeded standard industry expectations on key performance measures (e.g. click-through rate to the website and videos watched to completion).
  • Elected officials at the municipal and provincial level – as well as employees at AFPA’s member companies – endorsed and engaged with the campaign.

Our toolkit

Campaign Concept and Messaging Strategy

“Forest management” is a complex concept, but it boils down to taking good care of our forests so that they can continue providing environmental, sociocultural and economic value. We used a resonant, universal theme – love and relationships – to frame Alberta’s sustainable, give-and-receive approach to forestry in familiar terms.

Media and Advertising

We used various platforms to get the campaign in front of Albertans, particularly in the regions that were least familiar with the forest sector. We ran ads on traditional channels like billboards, TV broadcasts and cinema pre-roll, as well as digital display ads, audio podcast ads and sponsored social media content.

We also prepared an organic social media content calendar, and produced messages and material for distribution through those channels.

Campaign Videos

We developed a series of videos documenting three real Albertans’ relationships with our forests and the forest industry – a woodworker, an ecologist and a forester. These videos showed our audience examples of how the facts presented in our campaign play out in real life.

Physical and Experiential Applications

We created a custom 10’x10′ pop-up tent designed to make people feel like they’d stepped into a forest. It also had essential facts about Alberta’s forest management practices printed among the trees. We took the tent, a corresponding trivia game and an assortment of campaign-branded prizes on a tour of public events and community spaces around the province.

Campaign Website

We prioritized quick, high-impact facts in our advertising, but our client had a wealth of more detailed information available. We created a campaign website where people could learn more about forest management in Alberta, and included a call to visit the website in all of our ads.

Print Materials

We created an info booklet about Alberta’s forest industry for AFPA to share with important stakeholders, including newly elected MLAs after the 2019 provincial election. It provided essential facts and information that would be useful for the public and policymakers to know.

Research

We partnered with Leger to systematically measure Albertans’ knowledge and perceptions around the forest industry. Before we developed the campaign, we ran a province-wide online survey, a telephone survey and five focus groups in diverse communities to find the baseline. We then re-administered the survey after the campaign period to measure the impact.

Issues Management Briefing

We considered possible critical responses to the campaign and prepared for scenarios where the client was faced with backlash. We developed a response framework, key messages and a decision tree that clearly outlined what their response should be and who their spokesperson should be in different situations. Critically, though, we designed the campaign specifically to minimize the likelihood of a negative response.

Awards

  • 2020 Applied Arts Award Young Blood Promotional Design Series

Project Credits

  • Michael Brechtel Senior Counsel
  • Justin Archer Public Relations Counsel
  • Willie Lee Account Director
  • Pete Nguyen Creative Director
  • Emilie Josh Account Coordinator
  • Emily Keating Writer
  • Erin Nagy Graphic Designer
  • Hilary Zak Graphic Designer
  • Amy McBain Account Manager
  • Leger Research Partner
  • Bryan Cooper Photographer/Videographer
  • Thomas O’Hara Photographer/Videographer
  • Jon Manning Copywriting
  • Paul Letourneau Web Developer
  • Ian Armstrong Audio Producer

Services Provided

  • Advocacy Campaigns
  • Design & Production Services
  • Public & Media Relations