Municipality COVID-19 Campaign


Back to Recreation

Blaire McCalla and Beks partnered to provide a marketing strategy and to oversee a marketing campaign for a Canadian municipality in the fall of 2020. The campaign had five major goals, and our approach needed to succeed despite some interesting obstacles given the time the campaign was in the field. This municipality wanted to encourage people to come back to recreation and culture programs after reopening following the lockdown mandated by the provincial government.


Be Responsive

Should the city experience an outbreak or should the government change its stance on opening, we needed to ensure all ads could be pulled from the public very fast.

Number of Goals

We were tackling a large number of goals for the campaign. We wanted each citizen to adopt the online booking system, be well-aware of the new safety guidelines, and register for programs. We were asking our audience to do a lot of work.

Change Behaviour

Finally, citizens were accustomed to getting a printed guide of activities delivered to their homes, whereas this would not be the case this season. To find out what programs were offered for the fall season, people needed to use online guides instead.

Resource Constraints

The municipality itself was experiencing resourcing changes. There were some situations in which our team needed to execute given resource constraints.

A Research-Based Approach

The client appreciated and understood the need for research. To our knowledge, we were working with the only municipality encouraging citizens to use city facilities again at the time and because of this unique situation, we needed to do our due diligence.

Our primary concentrated on the sentiment around COVID-19 and the perception of public recreation during the pandemic. We focused our secondary research on municipal marketing campaigns around change management and citizen engagement.

The Strategy

The marketing strategy that we recommended segmented citizenship into three key personas – Likely to register, likely to be online, and unlikely to be online First, we targeted the audience we deemed most likely to respond. We created a marketing mix balanced across both online and offline channels. Our mix was more weighted toward paid advertising but also had specific activities that leveraged owned and earned media. The campaign used a blend of ad variations that matched ad creative to each identified audience and the particular goal we wanted our audience to fulfill.

The Campaign

The campaign was activated in the starting month of the fall program season. We collaborated closely with the municipality’s communication team to execute the appropriate ad buys and creative design. We leveraged our advertising partner LoKnow to implement and optimize our digital advertising distribution. During the campaign, we reviewed the data and slightly adjusted the campaign while monitoring program capacity.


This year, programs filled up at a faster rate than expected despite the pandemic. The utilization of online tools was better than last year, which conveyed that citizens were getting comfortable with using the website to register for programs and to find information. The campaign set conversion goals correlated to each of our campaign goals (as described above). We measured engagement, abandon rates, and page views as leading indicators. The municipality grew its email list, increased the number of online accounts created, and nearly sold out fall programs.


The campaign was valuable to the municipality not only because we were able to make a dent in fall registrations, but it gave us a baseline for how a digital-marketing campaign would work in engaging citizenship. We came out with seven recommendations on how to optimize future campaigns based on the metrics.


There are a number of moving pieces that need to work well together to be successful with a campaign like this. For this project, Beks’ role was to support research and strategy, and to head up the creative execution and oversee the campaign. Blaire McCalla brought a rich background in municipal work along with a CMO-type approach to the strategy. She used our research findings to create a strategy that inspired confidence, no easy feat in this time of uncertainty. LoKnow, our advertising partner, is one of the few Canadian agencies that have a major investment in digital advertising tools and in optimization. We benefitted from their capacity and expertise, and specifically from their experience in executing municipal advertising campaigns.

Finally, the client sponsor, the municipality’s communication team, could not have been any better to work with. Despite the challenges of working from home or with reduced hours, capacity constraints, and all of the unknowns, the team forged ahead. They did their part and stayed curious. Together, we created this project and made it a success.

The campaign had five goals. To encourage citizens to do the following:

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