Our objective was to enhance PCL Construction's corporate identity through an April Fools Day prank, driven by generative AI, with a blend of humor, professionalism and realism. This campaign strategically targeted employees, clients, partners and industry peers to amplify brand awareness pinpointed through analytics as our majority social media following. We mimicked a familiar content piece of project milestones, a significant event or a specific point in time that marks an important achievement or a stage in a construction project such as a groundbreaking or grand opening, to best resonate with our target audience. Our analytics identified that project milestone content consistently ranks as our top performing content with an average 4.5% engagement rate.
Enhancing Brand Awareness: In using generative AI in both graphic design and copy creation, we aimed to entertain and engage our audiences humorously to significantly enhance PCL's brand awareness. We quantified our success through benchmark KPIs of 40,000 impressions, 40 comments, 40 shares and a 4.5% engagement rate, across social media platforms, including LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. These predicted KPI’s are based on the average of past data of project milestone posts.
Resonate with the Construction Industry: To intricately tailor the campaign to resonate with our audience, strategic elements were meticulously incorporated into both the design and copy. Familiar visuals and copy such as PCL-branded Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and common construction terminology such as project milestone phrases, engaged construction professionals, sparking a lively and humorous exchange in the comments.
Utilizing Generative AI, even at its infancy stage, was instrumental in developing an authentic commitment to realism in both the graphic design and copy for this zero-dollar budget campaign in a strategic move to elevate brand awareness.
Efficiency in Development: AI developed the graphic through trial and error of topic prompting. This was much quicker compared to the traditional method of not using AI which posed a much longer process to achieve this same effect by sourcing a nearly impossible-to-find stock photo and spending hours manually altering it in Photoshop. Prompting AI to develop the copy achieved a faster result than the traditional method of manually typing creative and differentiated language per channel.
Relation to Construction Industry: By incorporating construction tools and PCL-branded Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) it reinforced the campaign's authenticity to realism by ensuring that industry professionals could resonate with its familiarity. Utilizing humor in the copy showcased our commitment to innovation through puns and clever hashtags which fostered a sense of entertainment and harnessed camaraderie in the comments, resonating with construction professionals on a deeper, industry-specific level.
Authentic Portrayal: What sets this work apart from other social media campaigns is how it accentuates the unique challenges posed by space imagery. Real images from space often lack high quality due to atmospheric conditions, aligning with the current state of AI technology, which carries a certain distorted aspect in rendering images accurately. In our campaign, this distortion became an asset, adding authenticity to our humorous portrayal of construction on the moon and reinforcing the campaign’s lighthearted nature.
Positive Engagement: The engagement garnered was thrilling, creating a positive buzz across all platforms. The diverse range of comments resonated with employees, clients, partners, and industry professionals in ways unparalleled by any other PCL post in 2023. The most notable comments include “Is this what corporate leadership meant by “Are you open to travel?”, “Next stop Mars!”, “Alright you got me, I almost put in a transfer!” The interaction facilitated a dynamic area for construction humor, forging memorable conversations among our target demographics, even prompting emails expressing interest in the post's authenticity.
Unprecedented Challenges Overcame: At the beginning of development, the team had the choice between a groundbreaking on the moon or under the ocean. Opting for the moon concept, we deemed it more believable and replicable through AI, given previous human visits to the moon. Platform selection posed another challenge, as we debated whether to post on LinkedIn due to the professional focus of this platform versus Instagram's entertainment focus. Navigating this, we crafted a campaign mirroring our top-performing content—project milestones—ensuring a professional tone aligned with our brand. In the design aspect, sourcing an impossible-to-find photo was a challenge, but for a prank post on the moon, it only had to be convincing at first glance. The infancy of AI presented hurdles, the designer navigated this by using Photoshop to manually adjust the AI-generated image, overcoming limitations in rendering hands, faces and bodies accurately as well as ensuring correct PCL branding.
The results of our campaign unequivocally demonstrate its resounding success in meeting and surpassing our team's objectives. Exceeding our KPIs by a substantial margin, the campaign garnered over 80,000 impressions, 98 comments, 141 shares and a 6.3% engagement rate. This triumphant outcome signifies the substantial impact the post had on our target demographic, surpassing goals set based on past data and showcasing the campaign's remarkable effectiveness.
Enhancing Brand Awareness: Our campaign's success is measured in metrics and also in achieving our broader goals of successfully elevating PCL's brand awareness. We navigated the delicate balance between humor, professionalism and realism ensuring that the AI-driven campaign entertained and also resonated with our target demographic in an industry-relevant manner.
Resonate with the Construction Industry: Emerging as the top-performing "fake project milestone” post of the year, this achievement is particularly noteworthy considering its connection to a holiday, highlighting the campaign's versatility and ability to engage our audience beyond traditional content.
Transformed Content Approach: The success of this endeavor has inspired a shift towards increased creativity and use of AI, shaping our strategy for future holiday posts on social media as we aim to replicate its impact via a fast and convenient process in graphic and copy development.
In essence, our efforts in this Generative AI campaign exceeded our expectations, it achieved business objectives with a zero-dollar budget while being a memorable and engaging experience solidifying its place as a standout success in our social media endeavors.