Every great campaign has a ‘why.’ There needs to be a purpose in what you are trying to achieve and without understanding that your campaign is bound to fail.
At the Saskatchewan Trucking Association (STA), we wanted to set out on our own campaign: one that would bring change to an industry that, unfairly or not, has struggled to improve its perception with Canadian society.
Thanks to Abacus Data, the trucking industry knows that only one in 10 millennials would consider a job in long haul trucking and that the overall impression of the trucking industry is worse than other competing industries such as construction, manufacturing and the armed forces. The data suggests that the trucking industry has work to do – with respect to the image it portrays to future generations and recruiting the next wave of professional truck drivers. Here is our attempt.
Our ‘Why’ STA is intimately linked to trucking in the province. Our Association is the collective voice for trucking companies in Saskatchewan and our team sees the hard work they do day in and day out. That is where the ‘why’ of this campaign cultivated from.
With a deep understanding of the role trucking plays in our life, we set out to dispel any myths and misconceptions of the industry and tell the story of trucking from our point of view. Truck transport plays a critical role in everyone’s lives – even if they do not know it. A truck delivers necessities for every part of your life – from the fuel in your vehicle to the food in your fridge. In our landlocked province, trucking is essential to trade and exports and employs roughly 5% of Saskatchewan’s population. Simply put, the everyday luxuries life affords us becomes accessible because of dedicated women and men, who have a passion for driving trucks.
Our ‘why’ is based in quantitative data. A great campaign can only exist with strong research and a problem that needs fixing. Although trucking in Saskatchewan is our lifeblood, it is not immune to ever-present labour demands. It is well-established in the industry, accepted or not, that a driver shortage threatens the long-term success of trucking companies. In Saskatchewan alone – according to the Saskatchewan Detailed Occupational Outlook (2019-2023) –
3,220 transport truck driver jobs (third most in Saskatchewan) will need to be filled over the next four years. Furthermore, nearly 75% of the transportation and warehousing industry will be run by new replacement workers.
If you couple that with a 20,000 driver shortage on a national level and an aging driver – 32% of truck drivers are 55 years or older versus 21% of the entire Canadian labour force (source: Trucking HR Canada) – a problem clearly exists. From our point of view, it is therefore fair to suggest trucking’s current and future success depends on appealing to a new generation of professional truck drivers.
We Are Trucking
With our ‘why’ in mind, our team built a campaign we believe will be successful. We started by identifying our target audience, youth (17-23) and career pivots (meaning someone looking for new career trajectory in their life). For each demographic we developed key messaging: for our youth audience, we positioned the trucking industry as being a viable career option and highlighted key benefits that resonate with young people, such as environment and travel. For career pivots, we focused on work-life balance, independence, and job security.
From there, our team created videos that communicated our key messages to our target audiences. We ran a series of ads on different social media platforms to raise awareness of how trucking operates in a modern world. Today’s trucking is focused on technology, innovation and environment and we set out to share those messages. Overall, the online portion of the campaign served a total of 2,213,953 impressions and received 333,937 views in the month of February.
It didn’t stop there: our team also created resources for viewers, who are interested in a career in trucking. These resources act as a guide to enter the industry, answering questions including, “Where do I get training? Is funding available? What makes a good trucking company?” We have also relied upon the industry to conduct interviews with trucking professionals in Saskatchewan, who reflect the new wave of trucking professionals.
These interviews reflect the way our Association feels about the industry. We asked questions about the future of trucking, current misconceptions, safety in the industry, and loved the responses we received. One respondent told us:
Trucking is a professional industry with a passionate group of people working in it. Often, I find that trucking is looked at as a last resort career or a meaningless career. I have done more meaningful work in twelve months than I have in the past five years. I think that if young people are passionate, thoughtful and want to make a difference – there is a place for them in the industry. The future is bright with technology leading the way. The industry is evolving and my short experience in it tells me that there is room for everyone.
These are the stories the STA wants to tell. So often trucking finds its way into a negative media spotlight where ridicule often follows. If our campaign can eradicate the stigma, then our Association and industry can declare the campaign a victory.
A Life of its Own
Five months in and We Are Trucking has established roots and developed in its own way. We’ve engaged with Saskatchewan’s greater community about jobs in trucking and extended our reach to other target audiences, including Indigenous communities. Among the youth in Canada, the Indigenous youth population is the fastest growing in Canada. We’ve recognized the opportunity to connect with this demographic and raise awareness around the viable career options available in the trucking industry today and are excited to see how these relationships develop.
Connecting with women has also been an important step for the We Are Trucking campaign. More and more women are entering the industry and having success; in Saskatchewan, we want to contribute to their success. Historically, trucking has been a male-dominated industry and it would be fair to argue it still is; however, the trucking industry is changing and that includes its work environment. Currently, along with the YWCA in Saskatoon, we are developing a program that will allow Saskatchewan women to earn their class 1A license and enter the trucking industry with the confidence and skills necessary to be a successful truck driver.
Naturally, the success of We Are Trucking is rooted in the support we have received. We have worked closely with the Ministry of Immigration and Career Training’s Labour Market Services (LMS) branch who have demonstrated their commitment to the labour supply and demand in the trucking industry. Through consistent phone calls and meetings, LMS has supported, brainstormed, and collaborated with the STA to create a successful campaign. This support has strengthened our network and helped take us places we may have overlooked.
At the STA we have a motto: we are only effective together. To drive change in the trucking industry, this is the approach we must take: a collective voice is a powerful voice. To close, we interviewed Jessica Reid, Logistics Coordinator for Aero Delivery who told us this when asked what the most important story the trucking industry must tell:
“I think the most important story the trucking industry has to tell is it takes a community. We can’t get anything anywhere without the trucking industry. I think that people do not see how big trucking is in the world. They bring your food and your clothes, and I think the transportation industry has so much to share with the world.”