Controversially effective

Have you noticed that advertising is getting a bit gutsy these days? And I’m not referring to Super Bowl commercials. More and more we are seeing the use of ‘attack’ or ‘aggressive advertising’ being used in the consumer-marketing world. This is a direction that was prominent during the days of Mad Men, but could it be re-emerging as the next big trend?

Microsoft’s recent ‘Scroogle’ campaign is similar to a political attack campaign. In the commercial, Microsoft attacks Google for everything from invasive ads in Gmail to sharing data with app developers. It ends by revealing that Microsoft is behind the message with the statement,  “For honest search results, try Bing.” It’s definitely aggressive and controversial.  However, with controversy comes attention, and the metrics have been pretty good.

Kindle has taken a similar, but slightly less aggressive approach when comparing the Kindle Fire with the I-Pad Mini. Ford also aired an ‘attack’ on Honda in their recent campaign.

So what does this mean for us?  Can we effectively recruit great talent with a more aggressive approach?

For employment marketing to be truly effective it needs to answer the question, “Why should the people you want to employ, choose to work for you rather than anywhere else?” We always advocate being straightforward and direct, but I wonder where can we draw the line? Many times we know exactly where the pool of talent is that we want to attract, so why not just directly target them and exploit the weakness in the competition?

Some organizations are beginning to dabble in this direction. Last year, Yahoo stationed carts passing out free chai along Silicon Valley shuttle routes hoping to poach talent from companies such as: Google, Facebook and Apple. The cups were accompanied with a handout blatantly saying, ‘Yahoo is hiring, contact this guy.“ The approach is direct, maybe arguably aggressive, but it’s also been effective both in creating a buzz and an increase in hiring numbers. While this was not a formal HR initiative, there is speculation that this has attributed to the increase in applicants for their HQ.

The employer marketing world tends to be risk adverse. I would assume that if you’re in a Talent Acquisition role, you may be thinking, “I would never be able to pull that off.” The way we communicate is constantly changing and it makes me wonder, will this be the next big thing in recruitment? What would a more aggressive approach look like in your company? How brave would or could you be?

I welcome your thoughts.

By Nicole Dorskind


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