State talent attraction marketing begins in Chicago

A Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. marketing campaign aimed at attracting Midwest millennials to the state started this week in Chicago.

A version of the advertising used to wrap a Chicago “L” train.

WEDC held briefings with reporters in Madison and Milwaukee this week to highlight the launch. The campaign, first announced in November at the WMC Future Wisconsin Summit in Madison, features paid social media, advertising on steaming media like Pandora and YouTube, geotargeted mobile ads, paid search and even a wrap on Chicago Transit Authority “L” trains.

The agency is using $1 million from its current budget for the campaign. Using the tag line “More You,” the campaign seeks to draw comparisons between the cost of living and commute times in Chicago and Wisconsin. See examples of the ads here.

“The commute time is a big deal and we’re making a big deal about it,” said Kelly Lietz, WEDC vice president of marketing and brand strategy.

Tricia Braun, WEDC deputy secretary, said Chicago made sense as an initial market for the campaign since it shares a similar climate, is in close proximity and has a high concentration of millennials.

While Wisconsin’s workforce needs will potentially be heightened in the coming years by the arrival of Foxconn, the campaign itself is about two years in the making. WEDC previously invested in research on marketing the state’s brand and Braun said the agency realized people outside of the state have “a true lack of awareness” about Wisconsin.

“We essentially were starting from scratch. Wisconsin has never promoted itself to talent,” she said.

The unveiling of the campaign in November coincided with Gov. Scott Walker’s announcement that he would be seeking $6.8 million in additional funding to attract workers to the state. A portion of that money would go toward expanding the campaign.

Braun said WEDC is currently looking at how best to use the additional funding. Options include intensifying the campaign in the Chicago area, expanding to Minneapolis-St. Paul or finding other markets to tap into. She said the agency could find money to continue the campaign in its current budget “but definitely not to the scale of what we need to do.”

The current campaign invests $233,000 in paid social media advertising with sponsored posts on Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn. It primarily targets 21- to 35-year-olds within a 25-mile radius of downtown Chicago up to the Wisconsin border.

Another $204,000 goes to 15- and 30-second spots on Pandora and YouTube with similar targets as social media. Roughly $80,000 each goes to mobile targeting, paid search and interior and exterior advertising on the Brown Line inside the Chicago Loop. There’s $146,000 budgeted for posters and other advertising in Chicago health clubs, restaurants and bars.

Braun said success for the campaign will be measured by website traffic, social media engagement and follow through on calls to action. While those provide WEDC actual numbers to look at, Braun added the goal is to change perceptions about the state.

“Ultimately, at the end of the day we want to increase migration patterns into Wisconsin,” she said.

See more about the WEDC ad campaign from this report from WISN-TV Channel 12, a media partner of BizTimes Milwaukee.

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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