If job interviews had a skip button, would anyone be willing to hear out an ex-con? That's the question Leo Burnett and a U.K. nonprofit try to make you answer in the innovative interactive clip below.
As the video opens, a young man recently released from prison speaks directly to the camera, as if the viewer is the hiring manager. As he awkwardly tries to tell his story, a "Skip Ad" button appears on screen. Each time the button is pressed and the video restarts, the applicant grows increasingly apprehensive and downbeat, until he's almost begging to be heard. Finally, he becomes resigned to his fate.
"I'm sorry that you don't want to listen," he says to those who've skipped their way to the end. "I hope you can find time in the future to give an ex-offender like me a second chance."
If viewers don't press the button, his pitch, though tentative, gets increasingly upbeat and ends on a hopeful note: "A lot of people just write me off pretty much straightaway as soon as they hear I've been inside. Today's been different. Thanks for that. Yeah. Thanks for listening."
The video by Leo Burnett Change, an activism division of the agency's London office, is part of the "Ban the Box" campaign from the nonprofit Business in the Community, which is pushing for the removal of mandatory check-off boxes on U.K. job applications that ask about criminal convictions. "With the subject of ex-offenders being such a contentious issue, we wanted to create a thought-provoking idea. Something that would make people reassess how they feel toward ex-offenders," agency cd Hugh Todd says in a statement on Leo Burnett London's Facebook page. "Using and subverting the 'Skip Ad' button gave us the perfect opportunity to do this."
That unusual approach underscores the broader message that denying this guy a chance to be heard is like locking him up all over again and throwing away the key.