Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Recruitment Marketing - Adland's Stepchild ?

Recruitment Marketing has always been Critical and All-Pervasive, Across Dedicated Supplements and Special Pages in Major Publications. however, it has never Seemed to Enjoy a Fraction of Respect, Glamour or Importance Provided to other Categories. Why? Our Consulting Editor Spews Fire :-)

It was the recent Remmy (Recruitment Marketing) Awards that prompted this piece. To most communication professionals, this is a category that certainly exists, but is seldom noticed or talked about. As an acerbic ad-tracker puts it “It is advertising of a very special kind, but for some inexplicable reason, never accorded the attention, respect, importance or inputs forever reserved for FMCGs or the new glam categories – Retail, Real Estate, Healthcare, Education – on the block.” Sad, because there is a lot one can do, but a lethal combination of ignorance, tunnel-viewed mindset and blind obsession with the stereotypical hi-profile products and services have kept the category at the fringe. Goafest and Abbys are hot ‘n’ happening, but how many have heard (or care) about Remmys?

Film, theatre & ad-maverick Bharat Dabholkar is first off the block and agrees to the fact as he tells 4Ps B&M, “I have always been intrigued by this complete lack of interest, initiative or imagination (from a totally creative-driven calling like Advertising) relating to this genre. Do the clients believe that by infusing creativity – engagement, art, emotion – wrong signals will be sent out, making the communication frivolous and eroding the seriousness of the intent? Rubbish!” Dabholkar reminds the killjoy that they forget is that the target group (potential candidates and employees) are first human beings with all the natural emotional responses to any piece of communication in place. They’d be only be too happy to connect with anything that provides the surprise-and-delight factor as value-addition to the main focus. “The everyday, boring, stereotypical recruitment ads are not based on truth, facts or survey results, I can bet,” Dabholkar insists.

Siddharth Ray, Executive Director of Kolkata-based Response, takes the case forward. “We live in an age of branding: brand architecture, brand image, corporate image... in this scenario, I can’t think of a more effective communication tool than this category to project a solid corporate image for organisations,” says Ray. He regrets the dismissal of recruitment advertising by the adfrat who insist on consistently re-affirming the stereotype. “I think in most cases, the advertisers must take the rap, because it is clearly their call. If they have no faith, belief, understanding, insight or knowledge in factoring-in their profile in an interesting, exciting or persuasive manner, how on earth can they ever expect to attract the brightest & bright talent?” adds Ray. Reason: Unlike earlier times, the profile of both the candidate and companies have undergone a dramatic change. Today’s brand-conscious, sharp, savy & confident MBA and IITian – with soaring ambitions and wide choices – is definitely looking for top-class corporate credentials. In that context, this genre is a huge, untapped goldmine ignored due to mindset, ignorance or disbelieving that this is a lesser or unfashionable form of Corporation-Employer-Employee connect.

Veteran Praful Daftari dismisses Ray’s argument with his very own take. An ex-communication consultant with PSUs, he lays on the line, “Let’s get some facts straight. In this Bingo-Pepsi-Coke-Cadbury-Mcdonald’s driven adspace, people are used to a kind of FMCG advertising that is totally entertainment-based. Recruitment advertising is very serious business with neither the time, space, scope nor requirement for anything frivolous. It has a job to do and does it in a direct uncomplicated focussed business-like manner.” Daftari believes that this hue ‘n’ cry has basically arisen because of “this new disease called creativity!”

Leo Burnett’s India supremo Arvind Sharma offers a dispassionate and objective view. “Recruitment advertising, by nature, is direct and does not require great chunks of creativity & brainstorming. However, when there is a competitive scenario or a me-too situation, out-of-the-box thinking is called for and this is when the challenge & opportunity combination comes into play. So basically it is about what is the message, who are you addressing, what is the tone of voice and what is the desired result. So, different strokes for different folks, I guess,” Sharma tells 4Ps B&M.

The last words are provided by Ujjal Sinha, CEO of Kolkata-based Genesis Advertising. He offers an interesting perspective tracing the changing face of recruitment advertising. “It has always been the advertiser’s call. In the good old days, recruitment ads came into the Tender Notice category. Both did what they were meant to. With the advent of digital and skyrocketing publication rates, both zoomed to the net. Unfortunately, recruitment ads never readily took off in that space, like tender notices. Today, in a world of fierce competition, where talent shortage is chronic, advertisers have no choice but resort back to mainline publications-but with a difference: instruct their Ad agencies to do cutting edge stuff. Think of these exercises as FMCG products and power them with the same amount of creativity, imagination and seduction,” says Sinha. Well, change certainly is in the air, for the ones who have chosen to reinvent this genre of communication!


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