A public service campaign by Intent for COSTI educates about the contribution of immigrants in Canada

Case Study by Ben Hagon RGD, Creative Director and President at Intent



Intent developed COSTI Immigrant Services' brand in 2015, so it was a natural fit for us to take on development of I AM (A NEW) CANADIAN campaign.


Campaign Goals and Deliverables 

COSTI provides a myriad of services for immigrant communities within the Greater Toronto Area. In light of recent political and social challenges concerning immigration and refugees, COSTI wanted a public service campaign informing and educating the Canadian public about the value of immigrants to our great country. This was a full public service advertising campaign that included print, digital and out-of-home media.
The  I AM (A NEW) CANADIAN website was created to track direct web traffic from the campaign. The only way of finding it is through the campaign. The content was a mixture of client story provided by COSTI and content written by Intent to frame the campaign. 
Intent meticulously hired copywriters account managers, media buyers and other collaborators that had the right expertise and the right attitude for a large, public service campaign such as this. It was important that all the collaborators contributed to the campaign in their own way.
The project had multiple moving aspects including custom paintings of the portraits used throughout the campaign. It was a challenge to coordinate all the aspects of the campaign with the parties involved because COSTI has a one-person marketing department; there was always a possibility of a typical bottleneck situation resulting in delays while they work on many different initiatives all at the same time. The mutually agreeable relationship we developed working with them in the past helped navigate that challenge. 
This campaign could have been a tough sell especially since it involved original commissioned art from a fine artist, but luckily for us COSTI was onboard with the concept from the beginning. We did have to work through many questions and layers of approval to get it finalized tough. 
The campaign was developed over a six-month period and is still running throughout the GTA today, almost 18 months after its launch.

Campaign Message & Design Development

The idea was to showcase the wide impact COSTI was making on the target communities and the Canadian economy via a testimonial style campaign. We were aware that it was important to cut through the clutter by having this campaign look different and stand out, particularly from any international language school advertising. We worked on a provocative and contextually significant concept — I AM A (NEW) CANADIAN, referencing an “old stock” Canadian campaign from the 1990s.
We were honoured to work closely with contemporary Canadian artist Hans Poppe to develop custom artwork of COSTI clients. Hans was selected due to his work and his journey. He is a Tanzania-Canadian artist who came to Canada as a child from Tanzania as a political refugee. His background, as well as talent, complemented the campaign. 
To capture the diversity of client background and to demonstrate the different types of services provided by COSTI, they selected Shayan, Grace, Rajeev, Samira and Milagros to be featured in the Campaign. COSTI's selected clients open the campaign by telling their inspiring immigration stories and how they personally are striving to make Canada a stronger and more prosperous country. Their stories perfectly aligned with the objectives of the campaign and turned out to be a striking, memorable and highly effective approach.



Campaign Outcome

The campaign ran throughout the GTA in 2019 and was seen everywhere; on buses, at streetcar stops, in subway stations, billboards in the heart of downtown Toronto (Dundas Square) and online via Instagram and Facebook campaigns. Specific results included:
  • More than 2,000 users on the new website with 3,567 page views from people across Ontario, largely in the GTA, Niagara Falls, Ottawa and across Ontario
  • 35% of the website traffic was a direct result of our social campaign on Facebook and Instagram
  • 52% visited the website after seeing the billboards, bus and TTC advertising, airport digital displays and more
  • The social ads on Facebook and Twitter were seen by over 105,000 users
  • COSTI's page on Facebook increased its followers by 31%


Designer Takeaways

  • Whenever you can work with original, custom imagery (photography, illustration, fine art) please do, it makes the world of difference when compared to stock.
  • When you have a special concept/approach, be patient with it and ensure the client has time to understand and appreciate it. Don’t quit on a winning concept!
  • Make sure to work with experts at every step of a large project as this one. Designers, account managers, media buyers, copywriters. Spread the love and benefit from their expertise.

Client Lessons

  • Fit is more important than a portfolio. The design firm could have the flashiest book in the world, but if you don’t gel with them as a group, it won’t work.
  • Trust your design partner to commit and execute your project, don’t micromanage them, work hard and be a good partner. The project will be better for it.
  • Experience and enthusiasm are both important. Your design partner should have some relevant experience, but enthusiasm and passion are most important.
Ben is an award-winning communications specialist with over 18 years’ experience working with some of Canada’s most notable non-profits. Ben works closely with Intent’s clients, listening to them, understanding their challenges and uncovering insights that always solves communications challenges and always meets project objectives. Ben was educated at the University of Arts London, and the London College of Communication. He holds and honours bachelor in Graphic and Media Design. Away from Intent, Ben is a committed family man, with four beautiful children, far too many pets, loves to travel and is a passionate practitioner of Brazilian JiuJitsu. Ben lives in Toronto, ON.