Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC)
In the coming years, Canada will face a skilled-labour shortage as the number of tradespeople approaching retirement outpaces the number of new apprentices entering the workforce. Our Trading Places campaign for Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) sought to bridge this divide and fortify the country’s economy for the future by encouraging more individuals to pursue careers in the skilled trades. Analysis of the overall campaign environment revealed widespread negative attitudes toward blue-collar work among Canadians. These types of careers are seen as tedious and crushing, a fallback career option at best. These attitudes, paired with the market saturation of university marketing campaigns competing for influence over young peoples’ aspirations, laid the proverbial gauntlet for our creative team.
We viewed those negative attitudes as opportunities. In actuality, the skilled trades boast high job satisfaction and financial stability. With over 300 skilled trades in Canada to choose from, a shorter timeframe to get into the workforce than going to university, and little-to-no student debt, the skilled trades would, could, and should be a great fit for young go-getters revving their engines but unsure of what road to take.
We established a value matrix for our target audience. When defining success today, young people prioritize an education that offers value and offsets worry over cost and financing. Second, driven by a unique sense of identity, Canadian youth seek opportunities for self-expression, individuality, and autonomy. Last but not least is the desire to fulfill a purpose.
We asked ourselves how we might best join the finest qualities of the skilled trades with the highest aspirations of young people and, in so doing, create a kind of dovetail joint interlocking possibility with desire.
Trading Places connects with young people using wit and humour, latching onto new pandemic realities. During the limbo of lockdown, we saw many people perfecting do-it-yourself activities at home (sourdough, anyone?) as well as a widespread re-evaluation of career paths. Trading Places positions these newfound hobbies and rediscovered passions as trade apprenticeship opportunities which can lead to fulfilling careers.
And why not? Careers in the trades offer freedom from office politics, administrative bureaucracy, and cubicle fever. Focusing on the liberating aspects of skilled trades, the video ad features relatable characters doing DIY projects in their homes to questionable effect. In one example, pots boil over on the stove, and a cook scrambles while friends seated at the table await dinner. The pay-off reveals the once-frazzled cook donning crisp kitchen whites while masterfully plating a culinary creation. The humour takes a motivational tone and portrays tradespeople as approachable friends and neighbours with admirable skills.
Advertising messaging took a holistic communication approach focused on value, self-expression, and purpose. A marketing campaign would then build on primary messaging and expand it to reach secondary targets.
An integrated approach with phased launches was taken to maximize reach and drive traffic. The first phase captured the attention of both primary and secondary audiences and promoted the skilled trades and apprenticeships as the preferred career choice of Canadian youth and their influencers.
Phase two influenced primary targets during their final post-secondary consideration stage, reminding them to apply for apprenticeships and skilled trades programs. Additional information about government funding initiatives was also provided at this stage, aimed at parents and counsellors to better guide decision-making.
- On-site video and photography services
- Production planning and management
- Post-production services
- Account management and coordination
- Creative direction
- Marketing strategy
- Graphic design and asset finalization
ESDC’s newly launched Skilled Trades landing page serves as a central repository for all things trades-related and has been well received by industry professionals. The campaign exceeded planning goals, generating a total of 852,377 clicks. The Trading Places campaign was able to drive interest in apprenticeship programs and meaningfully influence a shift in attitudes about what it means to work with one’s hands in Canada today.