Is this the worst recruiter ad ever?

I promise you I have a sense of humour.  ( Many may argue otherwise, but I can assure you I do ).  I mention this if only to assure you that I haven’t lost that sense of humour before you go on to read what I have to say about this advertisement from job site

Finding a job is a serious business.  If you are out of a job it becomes yet ever more serious.  Arguably a sense of humour can be a great asset in the face of tough circumstances, but if you are going to engage with someone, whether that is online or face to face, you want to know that you can trust that representation.

You want to know that the person with whom you are engaging is going to represent your career aspirations with professionalism and integrity.  If online, you want to know that the jobs board you are using is able to attract employers to the site that are consistent with your aspirations.  Even more so if you are paying for it. is one such site that you as the job seeker pay for access.  Google The Ladders, you get the following;

“With Career advice, Job postings, and Job search tools for professionals”, lays claim to offer  “Job search for professional jobs in the most comprehensive source of £50k+ ($100k+ in the US) jobs on the internet”.

Surely if you are offering job search tools and opportunities for professionals your employer branding should reflect such professionalism?  If you want to attract the very best employers to advertise their very best vacancies on your site, you have a responsibility to promote a professional image to ensure those paying for your site (the job seekers) can expect the very best in professional vacancies behind the pay wall?

Like I say I have a sense of humour.  Have a look at this advertisement from The Ladders.  Would you pay to join a site that claims to offer the cream of opportunities after having watched this?  Does it reflect the way you feel about your career?

I would love to hear your comments.  Is this the worst recruiter advertisement ever?

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Filed under Careers, Recruitment

9 responses to “Is this the worst recruiter ad ever?

  1. Jaqui Bell

    not one of their best ads!! bringing sex into recruitment is probably contrary to the spirit of the industry that is legally bound to be neutral in every sense of the word!!

  2. Gillian

    Made me chuckle once they reveled the slogan, however I don’t think mixing sex with recruiting works here (or anywhere). The message could potentially work for a job seeker (personally, I wouldn’t be racing to join after seeing that ad), but not an employer. I agree with you, does not demonstrate professionalism.

  3. Not a good thing. First, they are making a video for which a company could be taken to court, if they showed it to employees. Second, most of the actors in the video are not particularly attractive.

    For the $$ they spent, they could have come up with something which really could have had a major impact…for all the RIGHT reasons.

    • Kelsey

      The fact that most of the “job seekers” in the ad were not particularly PHYSICALLY attractive was deliberate. The idea was that making yourself attractive to employers does NOT involve sexing it up (which is why the literalness of the visuals is funny), it is through a strong resume and well-matched professional skills (services they then offer). I found it hilarious and not offensive at all (they carefully made sure that they got equal opportunity covered). The quality of the production and allusion to high-fashion modeling does lead me to believe that their services are probably not cheap though. I may check them out anyway…

  4. Media is so interesting. It’s so subjective. One person’s tasty is another person’s tacky. In the past, I’ve been in both the advertising agency business and the commercial production business. So I look at this through the eye of an advertising producer as well as just a straight entertainment piece. And it is a great piece of entertainment.

    Is this the worst recruiter ad ever? Well, that depends on your criteria. Frankly, this is a very clever use of social media. If they had produced a normal, boring commercial, would you have written a news piece about it? Would it have gotten 35,047 YouTube hits in the first six days?

    I love the tongue-in-cheek casting. (The overweight Asian woman is particularly wonderful.) I love the way they have extended their free media reach by posting it on YouTube in three different versions – a 0:33 (a 33 second ad), a 0:48 (a 48 second ad) and a 0:31 (31 second ad). It’s all the same ad, just edited slightly differently, thus guaranteeing a higher hit count as people try to see more of the ad. Very clever! They have also posted it on other sites such as TellyAds.

    Are they also doing traditional advertising? Well, yes and no. They do seem to have gotten far away from the traditional advertising model. On the other hand, if you look at the demographic they are trying to reach, it is very Gen X and cutting edge. Clearly they are targeting the jobseekers, not the employers.

    This is not the first time an ad for TheLadders has been labeled “Worst ad of the Year.” They have gone through at least two different advertising agencies that I know of. But when they moved their business from New York to Fallon in Minneapolis, the spots got more creative. They seem to ping-pong between very traditional ads, such as their “Tennis” spot created in 2008 and “Executive Chair Safari.” But lately they seem to be leaning more toward non-traditional stuff, such as “Monsters” in 2009 (a clear jab at and now this 2011 campaign “More Attractive.”

    But then has also been taking a less traditional, satirical approach with its “When I Grow Up” series. These competitors are both upping the ante.

    Does this campaign force your attention? Yes it does. Is there a burr of memorability? Yes there is. Is it in-your-face? You bet! On the other hand, does it go against the branding of TheLadders? I can’t tell. There seems to be no amount of research that can turn up even a hint of what TheLadders branding strategy is. Whatever it is, it certainly isn’t branding in any traditional form unless, of course, you’re trying to get a $100K+ job at Victoria’s Secret.

  5. I am a KPMG trained accountant who spent 15 years as a recruiter working from some of the largest and most respected firms in the world. I now work with people to help them find jobs and manage their careers (something only about 5% of the general population does well) and with blue chip corporates and medium sized companies to help them manage keep their staff (a pressing issue in Australia where I currently live).

    I give you my background to lend credibility to what I’m going to say. I totally agree with Kelsey and Kay. I think the ad rocks. For several reasons:
    – It’s obviously tongue in cheek. It doesn’t try to be anything else.
    – It’s very visual so will be noticed (it’s hard to set yourself apart in advertising as a recruiter, so I bet it’s working)
    – Ditto Kelsey’s comments about appearing more attractive to potential employers without “sexing it up”. Exactly what I help my clients do. Here here.
    – From a neuro psychological perspective it breaks the viewer’s state and helps them think about their job search in a different light. This is critical to the unemployed. Especially the long term unemployed. I’ve been successful helping clients find work who have been unemployed for years – just by helping them to reframe their job search.
    – It’s obviously getting attention – as evidenced by the fact that you’ve taken the time to write the post and we’ve taken the time to respond.

    Well done I say.

  6. 3 things to say:
    1. It succeeds in its primary objective..catching the eye.
    2. £50k jobs are not the cream of the cream, super professional, sombre-suited roles of time gone by and the makers may be looking to broaden the appeal as this is prime time for their business model (lots of people looking for jobs)
    3. Some people are clearly uptight about mixing humour and professional integrity.

  7. As a former marketing exec, including leading national marketing for a national recruiting firm — job sites and recruiting ads in their efforts to be professional could be interchanged as vanilla copies. It’s certainly memorable and gets the message across which is what advertising is about. It’s also got folks talking which is what advertising is about. Love it or hate it, the debate is exactly what good advertising does. It catches your attention, creates buzz and hopefully drives traffic and customers. But the real test is people ultimately buy. I found it overall hilarious. Today as a career coach, a little levity and perspective is never a bad thing.

  8. I think the ad is designed to attract their target market…the job seekers who want to earn $100K per year. From that perspective it succeeds in broadening their appeal to people who may not usually apply for a $100k job. It lowers the bar, so-to-speak. TheLadders is selling membership in their job seeking service…not necessarily getting people jobs. It is not targeted to employers. Clever.

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