ACEC New York Story: "Your Vision Can Change the World"

Nathan  Kahl Posted on November 19, 2010 by Nathan Kahl

The American Council of Engineering Companies of New York (ACEC New York), a statewide business league of consulting engineering firms founded in 1921, represents almost 240 member firms in numerous disciplines—transportation, energy, water and waste water, structural and MEP—with more than 17,000 employees in New York State. The organization’s mission is to be the leading advocate in New York State for consulting engineers and to enhance the image and business practices of professional engineering companies.   

ACEC New York’s early advertising and public relations efforts were primarily focused on promoting legislative issues that impact member firms’ business interests. However, in 2006/07, the organization shifted direction in response to two reports:

  1. a member survey indicating that a key concern among consulting engineering management was the dearth of new, young engineering professionals to further the profession, and
  2. the National Academy of Engineering’s (NAE) findings regarding the lack of understanding of the engineering profession and its call to action for consistent messaging about the creativity and innovation inherent in the field of engineering. This information was later incorporated into the NAE’s book, Changing the Conversation: Messages for Improving the Public Understanding of Engineering.

Among several public relations efforts targeted to effecting a change in the perception of engineering, ACEC New York undertook development of a new advertising campaign with this broad objective.

The Vision Campaign

With the relatively small budget of under $40,000, the new ACEC New York campaign had to be breakthrough—attention getting, compelling and visually exciting. The objective was to develop a universal message that would build on the foundation of NAE research and market-tested messages, convey the creative nature of engineering and inspire young people. 

The resulting Vision campaign concept combined a compelling visual image of a young person in a hard hat gazing through binoculars that reflected back images of an idealized built environment and a satellite view of the earth with the headline, “Your Vision Can Change the World.” The copy reinforced the message that engineering requires creativity, imagination and vision, and provided examples of the kinds of cutting edge project engineers are involved in, such as green buildings, and state-of-the-art bridge design. 

The ad was launched during National Engineers Week 2009 and appeared in half-page and quarter-page ads in regional and trade publications throughout New York State during 2009 and 2010. But that was just the beginning. 

Campaign Embraced by the Membership

As the ad was shared with the membership, a number of regional initiatives took shape, including:

  • The ACEC New York Central Region underwrote the placement of the ad on billboards in Syracuse.
  • The ACEC New York Rochester Region purchased a large quantity of color posters for distribution to area schools.
  • The ad was used as part of an ACEC New York  membership packet, in print materials and on conference signage and lanyards.

A special version of the poster was created for National Engineers Week 2009. Member firms were asked to download from our website a high resolution electronic file of the ad that could be enlarged and mounted in poster format for display in their offices during National Engineers Week, as well as used at local educational events. 

Achieving the Ultimate in Visibility: The Times Square Jumbotron

Our crowning achievement—placement of the ad on the ABC Studios Jumbotron Sign in Times Square during National Engineers Week 2009—was afforded us through a partnership with the Siemens Corporation. With a shared interest in promoting the engineering profession, Siemens offered to underwrite production and placement of an animated version of the Vision ad on one of the largest digital billboards in the United States. The dynamic 30 second animated spot displayed the imagery and message of the ad approximately once an hour every hour throughout the week, reaching an estimated 1.2 million people traveling through Times Square! 

Extending the Campaign to Change the Conversation

The message—that engineering is a vital and creative profession that goes far beyond number crunching, charting and graphing—seems to have struck a chord among engineers and non-engineers alike, providing ACEC New York with tremendous visibility for the organization and the profession we represent. 

For more information, please contact:

Hannah O’Grady
Vice President and Staff Liaison to the PR Committee
ACEC New York 212 682-6336



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