Jobs Site Monster Tries to Bring Levity to Mass Unemployment

Campaign encourages job seekers to see what’s available on its site

a backpack on a bed
A talking backpack has a bone to pick in Monster's latest campaign. Monster
Headshot of Minda Smiley

Millions of Americans are still out of work because of the financial fallout from the coronavirus. Last month, the U.S. unemployment rate fell slightly to 13.3%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with roughly 21 million people out of work.

Yet there are still jobs for the taking—at least according to Monster. As states and their respective economies begin to reopen, the jobs site is releasing a campaign that encourages job seekers to visit Monster, where “millions of jobs” are waiting.

Created by MullenLowe, the ads strike a quirky and upbeat tone, with a bag personifying the plight of an unemployed worker.

For instance, one featuring a suitcase is meant to appeal to those who typically hold white-collar jobs, according to MullenLowe creative director Myles Allpress. In it, the suitcase gripes about the fact that she’s no longer going on business travel, and is instead stuck in a closet next to a guitar case that won’t stop singing.

Another targets blue-collar workers with an exasperated toolbox that’s sick of being idle, while a third, geared toward graduates, shows a backpack that’s living at home with her parents after college.

Ben Salsky, creative director at MullenLowe, said the ads aim to give a “voice” to American workers who’ve been impacted by the pandemic, rather than talk at them. By playing with the concept of emotional baggage, he said MullenLowe was trying to strike a balance between honesty and irreverence.

According to Allpress, the agency didn’t do any testing to see whether the ads would play well with consumers. Instead, those who worked on the campaign read scripts aloud to their spouses and other family members to gauge reactions.

“We were just reading them out to people who we were living with,” he explained. “We were doing our own little really quick testing sessions with our friends and families.”

Salsky said MullenLowe also worked closely with the agency’s strategy department to ensure the idea would resonate. They landed on the concept of talking bags not only because it didn’t involve in-person shooting, but also because they could turn the ads around quickly, as they were working on a short timeline. 

After casting voiceover talent, they had each narrator record multiple lines and takes so the agency would have lots of options to work with. MullenLowe then collaborated via Zoom with production company World War Seven and directing duo Mark Potoka and Matt Spicer to bring each ad to life.

Jonathan Beamer, chief marketing officer of Monster, said the campaign, which is running on TV and digitally, is currently being tested in Atlanta and Kansas City, and is the first campaign Monster has done that directly addresses the layoffs and furloughs that have come about as a result of the pandemic. 

According to Beamer, “work from home” became Monster’s largest search term in April and May. Right now, he said the site is seeing “a lot of activity coming back into the market,” noting that delivery and logistics jobs have ramped up recently.

“Our goal with this effort is to inspire people to go look. There actually are a bunch of jobs in the marketplace,” he said. “It requires a little bit of flexibility on everybody’s part in an environment that just changed so much.”

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@Minda_Smiley Minda Smiley is an agencies reporter at Adweek.