This campaign aimed to tackle the industry-wide skills shortage issue in a brave, innovative way. Kier hid their branding so that they could take ownership of the message and engage partners, including competitors. The team demonstrated an innovative use of digital, using various tactics to reach their target audience, including good use of Augmented Reality to bring projects to life and an interactive website which allows users to explore industry job roles on a 3D map. This was supported by media relations and personalised interactions with their audiences. Success factors included a spike in job applications and website performance. The team deserve credit for achieving internal buy-in for the idea and the continued work with the wider industry will build on the great results achieved to date.


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Winner entry:

Brief and objectives:

People are the life blood of the built environment and it needs 400,000 new recruits every year. To tackle the skills shortage, we needed a campaign that would inspire the next generation of talent to consider a career in our sector. Our independent research showed the industry is misperceived as muddy, manual and male-dominated and careers advice across the UK is patchy at best, with a ‘one hour, once’ approach common. We had to spearhead change, showcasing our great industry and its fascinating careers. So, we created ‘Shaping Your World’.


  • Inspire the next generation to consider a career in our industry
  • Encourage Kier employees to play a key role in addressing the skills shortage
  • Own an industry issue that will make a difference
  • Achieve engagement across national, trade and regional media

Rationale behind campaign, including research and planning:

Shaping Your World addresses two key issues; misconceptions of the built environment and the need to recruit/retain the next generation. We wanted to be the leading voice on these issues and tackle them head on, showcasing the breadth of jobs available and engaging with the next generation while challenging misconceptions among students, parents, teachers and careers advisors. We decided to create tools and collateral others within the industry could share, with minimal Kier branding. Profile and recognition would be the initiator of an important intervention campaign, not simplistic brand placement.

To determine execution, we segmented our audiences:

  • Media – want quick/concise cut-through on industry issues
  • Government – want front-footed companies driving new initiatives, reducing policy and resource burdens
  • Clients – want social value from Kier as direct ROI on project spend
  • Public – want brands that enhance society, not just generate financial returns
  • Generation Z, future employees – want fun and engaging content

This mapping underlined that we had to develop the campaign to engage on a number of levels, from public affairs, to media stimulus, to sharing.

Strategy and tactics, including creativity and innovation:

We surveyed 2,000 parents, teachers and careers advisors connected to UK state secondary schools and academies. The compelling statistics from the resulting ‘Modernise or Die’ report were news that couldn’t be ignored. Securing support from the Institute of Directors and the Government-backed Careers & Enterprise Company (C&EC), we created our 1% pledge; 1% of our workforce would work with schools, engaging with at least 10,000 pupils over 12 months. Our people would share their pride and passion and inspire students. Through C&EC, we matched our ambassadors to the needs of over 1,750 schools and the pledge and universal training ensured we sold the full spectrum of the industry. We published an Awesome Career Guide to hand out at school visits. Our Virtual World Plaques created an enduring legacy and an innovative client differentiator, showcasing our projects across the UK.

Users interact with physical plaques, hosted on projects we have delivered/are working on, via their smartphones. Plaques are hosted by a unique celebrity/historical avatar of local significance, including Emeli Sandé and Nick Knowles.We used Snapcodes and Blippar to appeal to our target audience. When the plaque is scanned, the host avatar appears to curate the content. To fully endure, plaques needed to link to more than an archive to engage and inspire. The campaign website, VIBE – The Virtual Interactive Built Environment, begins with an interactive avatar builder quiz that can be shared on social media or join VIBE’s street party. A 3D street-scene breaks down industry myths. The Virtual World Plaque projects are navigable on a UK map and a fourth section includes inspiring one minute ‘pride and passion’ videos and Kier employee case studies.

Implementation of tactics:

We targeted media with findings from the report, using a personalised outline of the campaign. Broadcast focused on the report findings, whereas regional media was a mix of the report, Virtual World Plaques and schools engagement.

Our CEO was spokesperson for the campaign; we also had career case studies from Kier employees to showcase the progression and opportunities available. We held two launch events in Westfield, Stratford and Manchester Arndale, creating fully-branded Shaping Your World- stands. Visitors built their avatars and saw them live in our street scene on the VIBE website. We had plenty of shareable material, with an aunt sally board, Instagram and Snapchat boards. Ahead of the public launch, we held media briefings with key journalists and widely distributed our research report to draw attention to the skills shortage.

We delivered social content via organic channels (no PPC), leveraging our 90,000 followers on LinkedIn. We encouraged engagement with useful content on technology usage, inspiring conversations with schools to support our outreach targets.

Two days before external launch, we launched the campaign to our employees with a special edition magazine alongside posters, intranet articles and targeted emails from our CEO.

Measurement and evaluation:

Since launch, we’ve secured:

  • 124 pieces of national coverage, including Radio 4 Today programme, Radio 5 Wake up to Money, i, and The Sun, and trade titles including Construction Enquirer, Construction News, Building and Infrastructure Intelligence
  • 204% increase in press/social conversations around Kier
  • 12% increase in positive social sentiment over our main competitors
  • 87% more direct job applications (via VIBE)
  • 43 new enquiries to host a Virtual World PlaqueTM
  • £17,310 saving on September 2017-January 2018 recruitment costs
  • 25,897 unique visits to VIBE
  • 22% increase in Kier Google searches
  • 23,128 avatars created
  • 347 new Kier Ambassadors
  • 4,878 intranet story likes (a Kier record)
  • 337 positive comments to the internal inbox

Budget and cost effectiveness:

We’re an in-house agency of experts. This empowered us to be agile, getting buy-in from colleagues across the business at an early stage and using their feedback to adapt the campaign.

We had a budget of £90,000 and spent just over £77,000 externally, with engagement easily measured against objectives.

Agency Bliink defined the avatar concept and the website design and build (£30,000) alongside a Blippar hosting fee (£2,000), video production fee (£7,000) and costs for producing the physical plaques and trademarks (£21,000). Agency WPR assisted with the report, launch events and media outreach (£24,000). Elements delivered internally included:

  • Copywriting
  • Collateral design & print
  • Analytics
  • Social content and monitoring
  • Kier Ambassador training.