UH Students Take on Rebranding Energy Industry for Millennials

With Looming ‘Crew Change,’ Campaign Seeks Attention from Younger Workers

Add another group to those trying to reach a Millennial audience – and this one is comprised of Millennials.

An advertising class in the University of Houston’s Jack J. Valenti School of Communication is developing an ad campaign to attract young workers to the petrochemical industry.

The campaign includes an event beginning at 3 p.m. April 6 at the UH University Center, designed to draw students and share more information about job opportunities within the industry.

The campaign – developed in of the Local Advertising Campaigns class taught by lecturer Kenneth Bielicki, is part of a competition sponsored by the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), intended to increase awareness about and interest in the industry among young people.

The UH students, working under the name In Tempore Innovation Houston, say many of their fellow students know about the industry because they have family members working there. But they also found about half of the people they surveyed linked the fuel and petrochemical industries with refineries and smokestacks, not with the products made with petrochemicals, including plastic utensils, makeup, medical devices, detergent and mouthwash.

“Imagine a world without soap ... Luckily we have the Petrochemical Industry so we don't have to. #VoteforPetro,” reads one entry in the group’s Twitter feed (@ITI­_Houston).

The #VoteforPetro tagline is a play on the “Vote for Pedro” theme in the 2004 movie, “Napoleon Dynamite,” intended to capture Millennial interest with a voice from their childhoods.

 Some industry campaigns aimed at future workers have focused almost exclusively on the lucrative salaries. That’s a mistake, some of the students said.

 “You can tell someone they’ll make $100,000, and they’ll say, Will I enjoy my life?” said Enrique Pineda, a senior advertising major.

 Many Millennials link the petrochemical industry with an image of baby boomers working endless overtime, said Michael Jaramillo, a senior advertising major. Millennials value flexibility in order to enjoy their lives, he said.

 Devising the campaign – live on social media now, with YouTube videos and posts on Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram – served as a capstone project for students earning advertising degrees. Learn more from the Facebook page, ITIHouston.