Unemployed? Monster.com Wants You to Laugh



THERE are 11.1 million unemployed people in the United States, and the unemployment rate is at a 16-year high.

Those are bleak numbers. But as it tries to appeal to job seekers in a new advertising campaign, Monster Worldwide, the parent company of the employment Web site Monster, decided to use a humorous touch.

“We did a lot of homework, we talked to people about what their mood was and about what their aspirations were,” said John Osborn, the chief executive of BBDO New York, part of the Omnicom Group, which created the campaign.

They found that people wanted humor, even in a cheerless economy.

In one television spot, a construction worker clings to a beam, crying and whimpering; the camera then pans up to show he is only a few feet off the ground. In another, a crew of emergency medical technicians jumps out of an ambulance as heroic music plays. They run to a car accident — and an E.M.T. faints.

“Are you in the right job?” the ads ask.

It is a high-profile campaign that promotes Monster’s redesigned Web site. Ads began running during the Golden Globes on Sunday, and are scheduled during the Super Bowl and the January season premiere of “Lost.”

With the ads and the redesigned site, Monster is trying to attract not only the unemployed, but also people who currently have jobs, which it calls “passive seekers.” That’s because Monster is paid when employers list jobs and when they contact a candidate. The more résumés employers like, the more revenue Monster should get.

“That passive seeker, if you think about it, a lot of passive seekers are the best candidates,” said Ted Gilvar, Monster’s chief global marketing officer.

Monster has added three features to the site, based on the 40 million résumés it has collected in its nine years in business, that are intended to attract passive seekers.

One presents profiles of jobs, called Career Snapshots. Enter “fire ranger,” and users can review duties (direct crews during forest fires, ensure fire-regulation compliance at campsites); the rate of job growth in the industry from 2006 to 2012 (12.1 percent) and the number of similar jobs posted on Monster (more than 1,000).

The second is called Career Benchmarking. Users enter information about their career, education, salary and benefits and see how they compare with others in their field.

The third is called Career Mapping. Users enter a starting job and an ending job, and Monster plots how other people who have made that transition have done it. To go from nanny to spy, for instance, one suggested path is nanny, to youth behavioral counselor, to probation officer, to police officer, to intelligence analyst/security specialist, to intelligence analyst/imagery.

Monster lists relevant and available jobs on the pages showing those tools, in the hopes that passive seekers will click on them and submit a résumé.

“It’s a typical funnel. The more people you draw at the top, the more people come through,” Mr. Gilvar said. “This notion of dislodging the passive seeker is an attractive thing.”

Monster’s job postings have fallen because of the economy, Mr. Gilvar said, though employers were still hiring in areas like information technology, manufacturing and health care.

“If the economy turns, our postings will begin to turn,” he said.

With this campaign, Monster’s advertising spending in the United States will be higher this year than last, when it introduced a rebranding effort and a new tagline, “Your calling is calling.”

“Before that, it was very transactional,” Mr. Gilvar said. “We broadened the aperture to try to be as emotionally compelling as we could.”

The most expensive ad in the campaign, which is not yet finished, is intended for the Super Bowl, where 30-second spots cost up to $3 million.

“Basically, if you stop and think about the degree we’ve changed, for the company, we needed a big stage to do that. There isn’t another stage in the advertising world that replicates the Super Bowl,” Mr. Gilvar said.

Monster’s biggest rival, CareerBuilder.com, is running two Super Bowl spots. Michael Erwin, a CareerBuilder spokesman, said that CareerBuilder’s ads would be funny, and he was not worried about Monster’s ads. “We come from a similar industry, but what we offer job seekers is a different experience than what they would get at Monster,” he said.

Though having similar companies pitch similar services during the Super Bowl could confuse viewers, Mr. Gilvar said he thought Monster’s ad would stand out. Mr. Gilvar also said that Monster had become an official sponsor of the N.F.L. in November. As part of its deal with the league, it will run a spot during the Super Bowl promoting an N.F.L.-Monster contest in addition to its other 30-second ad. Monster would not give details on the contest.

While Mr. Gilvar declined to give details on the Super Bowl ad, he did say it would be humorous. Before BBDO designed the ad, executives at Monster and the agency researched whether people had different expectations of Super Bowl ads given the economy, asking about what they wanted to see, and found that people just wanted to laugh.

The entire campaign features humor, even in print ads aimed at employers running in human-resources magazines — not quite havens for comedy. Lines in the ads include, “Our new Web site is so easy to use it will make the glue stick seem intellectually challenging,” and, “It’s like online dating without that awkward kiss good-night.”

“We talk a lot about that, sort of, is that appropriate for a business environment?” Mr. Gilvar said. “Our feeling is, employers are people too.”

Monster is devoting about 40 percent of its budget to online advertising, split between search and display ads.

The new campaign, and the redesigned Web sites, are in 24 of the 53 countries where Monster does business. Globally, Monster’s advertising spending for the year will be a little lower than in 2008.

The media plan is different in each country. In the Netherlands, for instance, radio ads perform particularly well, while in “some of our smaller markets, there’s no way you could ever afford television,” Mr. Gilvar said.

Still, the television ads are created to work around the world. They feature little speaking, and include a six-second graphic at the end so Monster can promote the site and its features in a particular language. BBDO can lengthen or adapt that segment.

“It’s our desire to make sure these spots can travel,” Mr. Osborn said. “The limited use of dialogue, and the visual aspect to the campaign, will allow us to adapt them to global markets quite easily.”

Mr. Osborn said that although the spots were not inspirational per se, he hoped they caused people to think about their ideal careers. “People could use some betterment, especially in a time like this,” he said.