2017 Strategy Awards: The ASC plays the role of a trickster

The team lured people to a fake investment seminar to raise awareness about investment fraud.


Silver: Connection Strategy
Bronze: Cause

People around the world lose billions of dollars to investment fraud each year. For its annual Fraud Prevention Month education campaign, the Alberta Securities Commission (ASC) needed to go beyond raising awareness of investment fraud, but also have an impact on investing behaviour by making an emotional impact.

Research shows that being a victim of a scam is not something those affected would want to share publicly. Even if the ASC found a willing participant, there was a strong likelihood that it would fall on deaf ears. No one thinks they are going to be fooled. Showing, rather than telling, Albertans how easy it is to fall for a scam would help drive home the ASC’s message.

The idea was to create a scam featuring a fictitious financier, investment firm and real estate seminar to show that it can happen to anyone.

Working with Edelman, the team developed a detailed fake profile for Maplestock Investments and Jonathan Fisher, including a website, Facebook page and LinkedIn profile. They created ads using investment fraud red flags and advertised across numerous channels including Facebook, Google display, Craigslist, Kijiji and home-delivered flyers, all leading to an Eventbrite evite for the seminar.

Midway through the seminar, the ASC revealed the con. The seminar was filmed and the resulting video was sent to media. Major Alberta press were targeted across broadcast, print and online. A PR plan and key messages were also created to tackle negative media reactions.

The scam ads were viewed more than six million times and the ASC achieved two times the industry standard response rate. Website visits and page views quadrupled from the previous period. The campaign generated more than 18 million impressions – 1,293% over the target. Social media engagements were 612% above the objective and views of the campaign video were 1,674% more than projected.

Brand | Alberta Securities Commission (ASC)
Agency | Edelman
Strategist | Jessica Fralick