Thought Leadership

A Silver Anvil Campaign to Create a New Generation of Michigan Homeowners

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From a data standpoint, “Creating a New Generation of Michigan Homeowners” was a campaign to increase the number of loans by prospective homeowners for the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA).

But the work was also about trying to reverse a disturbing trend.

A recent Urban Institute study shows the homeownership rate of millennials between the ages of 25 and 34 was at 37 percent, approximately 8 percentage points lower than the homeownership rate of Gen Xers and baby boomers at the same age. And according to 2016 research conducted prior to the campaign, only 50 percent of homebuyers had even heard of MSHDA.

To shift this direction, MSHDA teamed up with local companies Airfoil Group (a creative marketing and PR firm) and Perich Advertising + Design to build an integrated marketing communications campaign centered on demystifying the home-buying process for potential first-time homebuyers — specifically Michigan millennials. By the end of 2017, MSHDA loan production increased by 38 percent.

PRSA later awarded the campaign a Silver Anvil in 2018.

In anticipation of today’s entry deadline for the 2019 Silver Anvil Awards, we spoke with Danielle Homic and Connor Grant, Airfoil Group social media specialists, about targeting Michigan millennials, marketing with Facebook Live and the showcasing passion in your Silver Anvil entry.


Why did you decide to enter this campaign for the Silver Anvils?

Our team was inspired to submit our “Creating a New Generation of Michigan Homeowners” campaign based on the year-over-year business results that our campaign impacted — loan reservations were up 26 percent, commitments were up 34 percent and purchases were up 38 percent. The tremendous impact — our client’s second-most successful year ever! — coupled with their enthusiasm for the results inspired us to apply for the Silver Anvil.


Was it challenging to capture the attention of Michigan millennials with this campaign?

Our research-driven approach revealed where best to communicate with millennials, and social media was a popular platform for this audience. Facebook’s algorithm favors Facebook Live videos, therefore we leveraged this medium to reach as many millennials as possible. In addition, we launched a Facebook campaign to promote the video after it went live. This helped extend the life and impact of the video over the course of three weeks.


What was your collaboration experience with MSHDA like?

We have a fantastic agency-client relationship with them. We had bi-weekly strategic meetings to brainstorm campaign ideas, discuss the status of projects and plan for what’s next. This relationship is deeply rooted in trust and collaboration that allow us to execute creative campaigns that will generate positive results.


What did winning a Silver Anvil mean for your team?

Our team was thrilled to win a Silver Anvil. We hosted an agency celebration, as well as a celebration with our clients at a Detroit Tigers baseball game — a favorite Michigander pastime! It was a great way to get together and celebrate the Silver Anvil win and our fantastic partnership.


If you could offer three pieces of advice for Silver Anvil entrants looking to submit their campaigns, what would they be?

  1. Provide tangible results. It’s important to showcase how a campaign positively impacted your client’s business goals.
  2. Tell a story. Display the passion you have for your campaign and the results it generated. This is the best way to leave a lasting impact on the judges.
  3. Save everything. The supporting materials at the end of your submission help illustrate what your campaign looked like to your audiences. It’s important to give the judges insight into the creative elements of your campaign. After all, it’s hard to fall in love with a diamond if you can’t see it.


Visit PRSA’s Silver Anvil website for entry guidelinestips from judges and case studies from past winners. 

Dean Essner is the editorial assistant for PRSA’s publications.

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Dean Essner

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