CareerBuilder’s New Tack: The Great Job Escape

There’s a whole lot of disgruntled employees out there, and in a TV campaign that breaks next month, CareerBuilder says it has the solution—escape to a new job.

The online job site has shifted focus from people who are out of work to those who are gainfully but unhappily employed in an estimated $20 million national campaign from independent Cramer-Krasselt in Chicago. “This is the next evolution” of the ad strategy, explained Kirk Scott, director of advertising for the Chicago-based client, noting that 85 percent of online job seekers are employed. “Given the way things in the economy have gone, there is an increased level of dissatisfaction among workers.”

Three humorous 30-second TV spots that debut Jan. 5 show miserable employees fantasizing about dramatic ways to leave their jobs. One shows an office worker who suffers through a berating from his awful boss, then begins eating lunch at his desk. After getting some ketchup on his lip, he feigns a serious injury—once inside an ambulance, he hops out and runs off.

Another commercial features a bank teller who jumps on a counter and tells everyone to get down as if robbing the place. She then tiptoes out politely. The third spot shows a factory worker making his escape by cramming himself into an oversized stuffed bear.

Voiceover for the spots notes, “There comes a time in some careers when you just need to move on. Plan your great escape at the only job-search engine with over 350 leading newspapers and professional organizations.” The tagline remains, “The smarter way to find a better job.”

“There’s a point in people’s working lives when they decide, ‘That’s enough,’ ” said Marshall Ross, executive creative director at C-K, which has handled the account since June 2002. “We called it ‘The moment of truth,’ and it was a great way to open the door.”

Emphasizing the newspaper connection—CareerBuilder is owned by the Knight-Ridder and Tribune newspaper chains—in the voiceover and an onscreen graphic was another key part of the strategy. “That’s something [category leader] Monster can’t touch,” Ross said, adding that the newspaper network is also expected to be especially appealing to those who place job ads. “They’re not going to walk away from newspapers.”

CareerBuilder has ramped up its budget since last year, when it spent about $5 million on advertising, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR. The company spent $17 million on media through August, and Scott said the site’s 2004 budget will mirror the 2003 spend.

TV ads will run on national cable and network TV during early-morning news, primetime and sports programming. Some ads will run in spot markets during the last week of the month.

Radio, print (running in publications owned by CareerBuilder’s parent) and outdoor ads are also part of the mix. One print ad is shot through a water cooler so an employee looks as though he barely has his head above water. Another execution shows a mannequin positioned to look as though it is kicking a retail worker out the door. Copy reads: “Maybe it’s time to move on.”

Previous work played up the site’s technology. “In speaking with job seekers, they said talking about the search tools wasn’t particularly relevant,” said Scott. “They said, ‘Tell me about the jobs.’ ”

Ross said the emphasis on tech capabilities “wasn’t going to be anything fascinating to [viewers], because they’d say, ‘Yeah, I hope it does that.”

A campaign that broke this fall shows people giving candid before-and-after employment-search confessions. In one spot, for example, a job seeker admits that before CareerBuilder, “I was handing out business cards to anyone who would take it. … Even my boss was asking me how the search is.” And after: “CareerBuilder let me search anonymously. [It] helped me make the right contact.”