Case Study: IABC Gold Quill Award Of Merit 2020 – Aurecon – 2035: Moving People and Goods
What is the future of transport for Australians? That’s the question global engineering, design, and advisory company Aurecon wanted its key stakeholders, including its people, clients and the broader commuting public to answer so that it could better position itself for future transport challenges and show clients how it could help to navigate, prepare for and address these.
In late 2018 Aurecon launched its 2035: Moving People and Goods campaign. They asked more than 1300 people in Australia to imagine themselves in 2035 and tell them about where they had chosen to live, work, how they commute, what foods and goods they would purchase and how they prefer things to be delivered.
Business need and communication opportunity
Faced with an estimated population of 32 million in 2035, increasing demand from trading partners and rapidly evolving technologies and consumer behaviour, moving people and goods around Australia’s vast continent will undoubtedly remain one of the nation’s biggest infrastructure challenges.
In mid-2018, the International Association of Public Transport (UITP), which facilitates the exchange of ideas to further the development of transport policy, planning and operation, held a major Summit in Australia. This saw almost 200 transport leaders gather to debate issues facing the Australian transport industry, focused on the country’s long-term mobility future towards 2035. It found that the significant increase in population growth meant that government needed to encourage more people onto public transport while at the same time encouraging on-demand solutions with the aim of connecting communities, better servicing regional areas and automating solutions to provide a seamless and more efficient experience.
Against this backdrop, creating a future ready roadmap that responds to the 2035 challenge is complex, but it is something that Aurecon needed to do to meet its broad client expectations. They needed to build a campaign that focused on the future and what people expected and wanted so that by 2021 when UITP holds its Global Congress, at which Aurecon will be a major sponsor, they had positioned themselves to demonstrate they have the solutions to Australia’s transport needs.
The overarching goal was to position Aurecon as a thought leader in the future mobility space by showing that they had a deep understanding of their clients’ challenges. From this, they could then tailor solutions through their service offerings as well as adapt the language and imagery of their content to align with the needs highlighted in the survey data.
Objective 1: To inform Aurecon’s commentary on long-term and emerging transport issues based on insights from the public and transport professionals in relation to cost, convenience and the environment – to achieve a sizeable sample of more than 1000 responses in under two months, including from leading transport agencies.
Objective 2: Produce an engaging piece of thought leadership designed with a view to achieving discussion in the industry and winning new work.
Objective 3: Provide a tool that will confirm Aurecon’s transport positioning leading into UITP 2021 and which will provide a platform for podium presentations by Client Directors. However, it was important for Aurecon not just to focus on the outcome of the survey but to ensure that respondents engaged in an enjoyable experience and thought about the topic.
Brand communication in the form of a survey is not an easy task as it relies on the participation of others so it was essential to take people on a journey from the moment they received the initial communication to the completion of the survey, understanding which persona they reflected and getting them ready to think about what changes they need to address based on the outcomes of the report, which was released in July 2019.
The creative comprising cartoon personas was fun and engaging. In February 2019, once Aurecon had the survey data, they had a few months to analyse and present this so during this period they kept their audience engaged and keen for answers through online social content as well as electronic direct mail (eDMs) and video teasers.
The Communication Solution
View Aurecon’s report, Future transport: understanding what Australians want
Aurecon’s campaign was rolled out in November 2018 when they began the survey, engaging with the following stakeholders to find out where they would choose to live, work, how they would commute, what foods and goods they would purchase and how they would prefer things to be delivered in 2035:
- The general public (their clients’ clients): >1000 of the transport using public in cities and regions
- Clients in the transport and mobility sectors
- Aurecon people providing engineering, design and advisory services to these sectors.
The 2035: Moving People and Goods report provided a fun yet detailed solution that positioned Aurecon as responding to the transport needs of their clients and stakeholders.
The survey approach: the decision to use a survey tool allowed Aurecon to get in-depth data that they could analyse but doing this as part of a broader brand campaign that resulted in a detailed report and thought leadership articles through to high level video and online social media content meant they could engage a broader audience than just technically minded engineers. This allowed Aurecon to have discussions with their clients at that technical level and then with their clients’ clients at the awareness level.
The report was the foundation: while the written report, which is available on their website and was communicated through social media and directly to stakeholders through an eDM, forms the basis of the campaign, it was the supporting activities and assets that in many ways provided the winning solution. This ranged from a launch event with clients as a panel discussion, individual thought leadership pieces from Aurecon staff to personally address some of the issues, and the enthusiasm of their people to engage in this content and take the initiative to proactively use and share with clients to start further conversations about services they offer and solutions they provide.
This was driven by the report’s broad outcomes, particularly around the need to balance convenience and cost with sustainability. The report painted a picture of Australia where convenience was the major focus for our transport network.
Overwhelmingly, the most important overall consideration when it came to future freight and transport decisions was convenience. Leading busy lives, the majority of respondents were drawn to anything that saved them time.
In today’s fast-moving society, immediate gratification is a highly sought-after currency for many people who are time-poor yet earning high salaries. So, we want convenience, but at what cost? How do we achieve the convenience people desire, without compromising the environment in which we want to live, the hip pocket, or people’s wellbeing and safety? How do we ensure that this is convenient for everyone, not just the few who can afford the luxury of convenience?
Australia has many opportunities at its fingertips: increasing productivity, strengthening our labour force and domestic business market and creating greater community diversity. But to maximise these opportunities our cities and regional areas must remain great places to live and work.
More than 1300 people responded to the survey. The communication found that overwhelmingly, the most important consideration when it came to future transport decisions was convenience. Leading busy lives, most respondents were drawn to anything that saved time. This finding is now influencing every aspect of the planning and design process in the work Aurecon does for its mobility clients. It has guided their thought leadership around the topic of urban mobility, focusing particularly on key themes of convenience, autonomous vehicles, mobility as a service, and freight and safety. This has led to new business and allowed Aurecon to broaden its client base.
Digital downloads and 4,000 hard copies of the report have been shared with clients at events and meetings. Aurecon has had multiple requests from industry associations to speak to their members and to present at their events. As part of the launch of the report Aurecon spoke about the results as a keynote at the Roads Australia Forum in Melbourne in August 2019 and they also held their own panel discussion with clients at a packed event in Sydney the same month.
It’s important to note that the above objectives would not have achieved the cut through, consistency and brand recall that they did without the simple and effective story-telling that was achieved through the cartoon design. This allowed for the technical information to be understood and quickly digested by readers.