I've delved deep into the memory banks. But I can't remember the last time Campaign wrote about a classified recruitment ad. It's probably because, as a category, they're pretty boring. Except sometimes. This week, deep from the back half of a 252-page style magazine, a curious example has come to the fore.
The ad in question is one for MindShare, which is looking for the next generation of media planners. Nothing extraordinary about that, but the location of the ad and the thinking behind it are certainly worth commenting on.
So where did it appear? In The Face (p222 of the October issue), which is certainly not your normal choice of recruitment medium, certainly compared with some of our own fine magazines. After all, people don't read The Face for the job ads and, even if they did, the average reader of The Face is going to be much more interested in looking at a nice spread from Hugo Boss than something from a media company.
All of which is, no doubt, correct. So has MindShare taken leave of its senses? No. In fact, this ad strikes me as a textbook example of attaining the media planner's holy grail, that point at which the medium really is the message. The message: these days, media planning and buying is a creative discipline just as open to those who work or are interested in film, fashion, TV, retailing, dotcoms, music, design (or indeed advertising), and The Face is exactly where you might find such individuals.
This is some change. Traditionally, the first quality demanded of the trainee media buyer is numeracy and, therefore, recruitment was among those for whom the calculator was a natural extension of their arm. Legend has it that the first question in any Ray Morgan and Partners interview, to which an instant reply was demanded, was 'what's 70 per cent of seven?'. Most creative people I know would have been thrown by such a question and those who weren't would have quickly concluded that media planning and buying was not for them.
If attracting a different type of person is one interesting aim of the ad (and, let's face it, for an industry that too often fishes in the same pool, tapping new sources of talent has got to be a good thing), the content is another. Let's ignore the of-the-moment airline safety card-style art direction (very Wallpaper, very right for The Face's readership). Look closely, though, and you'll see that the staple of the recruitment ad, the response mechanism, is missing. In fact, there's no MindShare address and no phone number. A bit like the Army ads, it's a test to make sure that only those really interested will make the effort. For those who are, the ad directs them to the website, where again a little more effort is required to locate the task in hand, devising a media plan to sell themselves to Simon Rees, MindShare's managing director. Fiendish!
I've got three quibbles. One, the homepage (www.mindshareworld.com) proudly proclaims MindShare is in the business of 'media investment management'; surely exactly the kind of term to put off readers of The Face. Two, if MindShare's such a hot media buyer, how come the positioning is so bad?
Three, I think the hurdles to entry are too high - you end up thinking: 'Fuck it, do they want me to apply or not?' - but MindShare claims the ad has been worthwhile. We shall see. At the very least, it deserves credit for smart lateral thinking.
Dead cert for a Gold Pencil? We're talking recruitment ads here, luv. Creative is a foreign word.
What about a Campaign Media Award? I'd say, but only if the ad pulls.
What does the ad say about MindShare? Cool place to work, but p222? Pah! So much for its buying power.