The Client

Ithaca Area Economic Development (IAED) & Alliance for Manufacturing and Technology (AMT)

Ithaca Area Economic Development Agency, in a partnership with AMT, launched the Direct-to-Work program, which pays high school graduates to complete a nationally recognized manufacturing certification and guarantees program participants job interviews with local manufacturers. It was a great opportunity for non-college bound teens, but they needed help spreading the word.

How We Helped

Audience Research
Focus Group
Campaign Strategy
Campaign Concept & Development
Paid Social


The manufacturing sector is rapidly growing in New York’s Southern Tier region, but local manufacturers are struggling to recruit younger employees and the next generation of workers. Ithaca Area Economic Development (IAED) and AMT- a nonprofit dedicated to working with small to mid-size manufacturers, partnered with Idea Kraft to sponsor a pilot program and tackle this challenge.


We kicked off the project by researching Gen Z and the public’s perceptions about jobs in manufacturing. We learned that Americans value a strong manufacturing sector but are very reluctant to pursue careers in the field. We did identify one group that strongly advocates for manufacturing careers, though. Those familiar with the industry are nearly 2x more likely to encourage children to pursue manufacturing.


Our campaign needed to leverage the group that could speak to careers in manufacturing with an authentic passion rooted in their own lived experience. Enter the creator economy. Idea Kraft identified the online communities relevant to the Direct-to-Work program and tapped its creators for content.


The end result? A paid social campaign across TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram that presents the Direct-to-Work Program’s value proposition in a way that speaks to Gen Z’s unique values and aspirations. Despite a very small target audience of 17 and 18 year olds in the Southern Tier region, the ads earned 1.1M impressions and 10.5K clicks.