Killam Apartment REIT: Small Victories Campaign

Killam Apartment REIT (Killam) owns, manages and develops residential properties in Atlantic Canada, Ontario, and Alberta. Since its first acquisition in 2002, Killam’s real estate portfolio has grown to $1.8 billion, and includes 13,655 apartment units and 5,165 manufactured home community sites.

As the largest landlord in Atlantic Canada, Killam challenged Cossette to craft a digital B2C campaign to explicitly target first-year post-secondary students (ages 18–25) who had lived either in residence or with multiple roommates and were looking for their first apartment.

During the promotional period of November 2016 to April 2017, our primary objective was to spark social media engagement with the audience. Our overarching goal was to encourage the target audience to visit and book an apartment viewing.

What did we already know? The off-campus student living market is very competitive. As an example—in the downtown Halifax core from September to April, there is an influx of 20,000 to 30,000 students. With a continuously overturning student base, Killam must continuously evolve their marketing strategies to effectively target this fluctuating demographic.

So how do we do this? How can we speak to a continuously evolving market with very particular needs and wants?

Instead of marketing the economic and social value of the Killam lifestyle, we used psychographics to speak to the unique experience of renting your first apartment. Finding your first apartment is an emotional process and we wanted to highlight the habits, behaviours, and values that drive students to leave residence or similar communal living situations.

Our inspiration: it’s not easy being a student in residence.

The combination of tuition, books, and unsupervised hormonal hooligans does not leave much money or patience left over to enjoy life to the extent that we all wish for. The majority of post-secondary students tend not to have very many things because of this fact. For most, it’s a life of penny pinching, second-hand everything, and low standards of living. It’s a time in their often young lives when ‘small victories’ get them through their day. Simple things like getting the last slice of pizza, finding a $5 bill in your winter coat or having your coffee cream last past its expiry date, make student life that much more tolerable. Especially if you don’t have to share it with people you don’t enjoy.

These are the type of moments we wanted to share with our audience. If you rent with Killam, then you’ll be able to savour the small victories without having them be soured by 30 shitty roommates who are not your friends. Residence sucks; therefore, #KillamBeatsRes

Our video idea: you’ve finally made it.

This direction celebrates the benefits of a Killam apartment in an intentionally over-the-top way. Of course, moving from residence into your own place at Killam is a victory—but in these videos we act as if it’s the single most important victory in the history of humankind. The fun is in the contrast. Visually, we simply watch a twenty-something student go about their everyday life. There is absolutely nothing special about it. The voiceover, however, speaks to what we’re seeing as if it’s a playoff win.


We knew during the academic year there are two periods when students are ending their semesters and venturing out to look for new living accommodations. We divided the ‘Small Victories’ campaign into two promotional phases that coincided with these two periods. Each phase used three short video ads that were featured on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. The campaign’s benchmark of each phase one and phase two videos was set at 150,000 views.

To drive awareness of the campaign’s message on social media, we incentivized the campaign’s call to action into a contest.


Clicking through each video led to a provisional landing page on that encouraged the audience to enter a contest for a chance to win $500 and a month of free rent with Killam. Each entry produced an interstitial social media post containing a link to the video, and also provided an opportunity to tag a friend to encourage them to enter the contest as well. The contest finished with 323 entrants, which resulted in 48 apartment viewings booked.


Killam’s Small Victories campaign overachieved in every measurable digital outcome. The benchmark goal of 150,000 views was smashed by receiving 573,380 views; 350,698 on YouTube and 222,682 on Facebook. The series of three videos made 3,025,060 impressions with a view rate of 28.95%.

We were able to not only meet our goal, but over deliver with an above average click through rate of 2.44% and 14,100 visits to the website, with 85.6% being new visitors.

I guess we weren’t the only ones that thought that living in residence is a special type of hell.

Agency: Cossette
Art Director: Greg Dubeau
Copywriter: Brad Dykema
Account Director: Maude Drouin-Halou
Account Executive: Jena McCulloch
Video Production: Buoy Marketing + Production
Producer: Don Veinish
Producer/Director: Ben Bennett
Director of Photography: Kevin Fraser

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