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RACINE COUNTY — State officials have announced a new, $1 million talent attraction campaign, using only social media, designed to persuade millennials to live and work in Wisconsin.

The campaign’s first phase will target millennials, or people ages 21-35, in the greater Chicago area and attempt to sell them on Wisconsin’s career and lifestyle advantages. It will be conducted mostly via social media including Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pandora and YouTube.

The next phase, starting in February, will aim to reach alumni of Wisconsin colleges and universities who live out of state.

This is Wisconsin’s first out-of-state talent marketing campaign, said Tricia Braun, deputy secretary of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.

The new campaign emerged from discussions that started about four years ago among WEDC partners, Braun said. In exploring the question of how to attract young talent to the state, they found there was a “limited perception” of what Wisconsin offered, she said.

“It’s not enough to tell people that we have jobs if they don’t also think it would be a great place to live,” said Kelly Lietz, WEDC vice president for marketing and brand strategy.

And with Foxconn Technology Group planning to build its $10 billion manufacturing campus in Mount Pleasant, Braun said, “I think Foxconn’s part of the story” and helps to create excitement about Wisconsin.

Racine County Economic Development Corp. Executive Director Jenny Trick stated: “Supporting our existing companies and recruiting new development to Racine County has been RCEDC’s mission for nearly 35 years, and our future efforts will benefit from a solution-driven talent recruitment program.”

Fishing in Chicago

Chicago is a ripe field for plucking millennials, WEDC and its partners believe. “Chicago’s large concentration of young people, who tend to be more mobile than other demographic groups, and its consistent out-migration patterns makes this a primary market for Wisconsin’s talent attraction efforts,” the agency states.

“After several years, there’s an appetite to move away from Chicago,” Braun said.

The social media campaign is designed to deliver messages that in Wisconsin, young professionals can have more time with family and friends, more career choices and a greater ability to have an impact, Braun said.

For example, one interactive ad allows the recipient to convert his or her Chicago commuting time to the number of days a year spent in that mode. A 55-minute commute equals 20 days a year, the ad says; then it says, “That’s because Chicago has the longest commute times in the country, compared to only 22 minutes in Wisconsin.”

Another ad allows Chicago-area residents to convert their monthly rent amounts to what they’d pay in Milwaukee, where rents average 42 percent lower.

WEDC bought advertising on a network of popular phone apps, and the ads will appear when someone goes to play one of those games, visit one of those news sites, and so on.

Another form of the campaign will be audio ads on music-streaming service Pandora and 15- and 30-second video ads on YouTube.

Wisconsin website

All of the ads are intended to drive people to a new website,, which allows visitors to explore the state’s key industries, natural resources, cultural and recreational options and communities.

Lietz said they will get more than 250 million impressions, or opportunities for people to see the ads, during the campaign’s first six months. They also expect more than 10,000 job and/or house searches at during that time.

Ads will also be placed on Chicago Transit Authority L trains — including train wraps, and in health clubs, bars and restaurants in the campaign’s first phase.

The initial campaign runs through June 30. WEDC said there have been calls for increased coordination among government agencies to expand its reach. A proposed 18-month plan calls for continuing the Chicago paid media strategy beyond June 30, expanding the campaign to additional Midwest areas, increasing outreach to Wisconsin alumni, and aggressively targeting transitioning veterans and their families nationwide.

Gov. Scott Walker has proposed spending another $6.8 million to deploy that initiative.



Michael "Mick" Burke covers business and the Village of Sturtevant. He is the proud father of two daughters and owner of a fantastic, although rug-chewing, German shepherd dog.

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