WEDC ad campaign to attract, retain workers hits Chicago

The state’s first-ever advertising campaign to attract and retain Wisconsin workers launched this week, with ads of all shapes and sizes peppering the Chicago area.

The $1 million price tag for the campaign is coming out of WEDC’s fiscal year 2018 budget, covering paid advertisements in a variety of channels. These ads highlight specific advantages of living in Wisconsin compared to a bigger metro area, such as shorter commute times, lower taxes and lower rents.

Tricia Braun, COO of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, says momentum has been building for this campaign for about two years.

“We had been hearing as an agency from all of our partners, businesses that we work with, etc., that talent is increasingly the number one issue for Wisconsin,” she told “Looking at what we could do to market Wisconsin to out-of-state workers, the reality was there was a large lack of perception or misperception on the types of opportunities that Wisconsin offered.”

She says the effort to draw Wisconsin alumni and millennials from out-of-state will reframe the narrative by showcasing opportunities for careers and for personal fulfillment.

Ads will take the form of targeted social media posts, streaming video and audio ads, mobile app pop-ups, banners on trains, backlit billboards in downtown health clubs and branded coasters in restaurants and bars.

All the visual ads have a similar look, with bold colored frames surrounding two-pane images contrasting big city life with living in Wisconsin. Video ads share the same comparative structure.

One billboard has an image of cars stuck in busy traffic above a photo of two paddle-boarders soaking up the sun. It reads: “Brake pedal, or board paddle? The choice is yours. In Wisconsin, the average commute time is less than 22 minutes, so you can spend less time traversing Michigan Ave and more time exploring our 15,000 lakes. Wisconsin. It’s more you.”

The campaign as a whole centers around the concept of “more you.”

“A couple of different notions were tested in the market,” Braun said. “The feedback on ‘more you’ is resounding; that yes, in Wisconsin, you can have more of what you love to do. You can spend more time with your family; you can have more career choices — whatever it is, you can have more of it here in Wisconsin.”

A big part of the campaign is the revamped website, which will supplement the digital ads with regional data and testimonials, as well as home and job search functionality.

Gov. Scott Walker first announced this ad campaign at the Future Wisconsin Summit in late 2017, when he also called for legislators to allocate $6.8 million to market the state to three key groups: Midwest millennials, Wisconsin alumni, and military vets and their families.

While the $1 million campaign targets millennials and alumni, it doesn’t have any ads specifically geared toward veterans. If the Legislature acts on Walker’s request, part of the funds would go toward the primary campaign, while a sizeable portion would support the development of a separate national campaign targeting military personnel as they leave active duty.

Lawmakers have introduced bills to allocate the $6.8 million, and a hearing on the Assembly bill is set for this morning. WEDC will be testifying jointly with the Department of Workforce Development and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“The partners that we’ve been working with that are begging for this to happen, I think there will be ancillary lobbying happening through those channels,” Braun said, adding that WEDC representatives will be meeting directly with lawmakers to tout the legislation.

See some sample ads below.

Banner ads for train interiors:

Backlit billboards for health clubs:

Social media ads:


–By Alex Moe