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TheLadders.com Brand Sexes Up

January 05, 2011
by Abe Sauer

Human resources advertising has so much potential. It’s advertising to humans about humans, and what’s more complex, emotional, fun, expressive and tragic than being human? But because the sector is so knotted with such humanity, many job search brands play it safe and lay on the sincerity, and thick.

That’s why it’s great to see a campaign have some fun with the (some might say) grim fact that its product is people — people seeking jobs in a still-tough economy. TheLadder’s new branding initiative may not be great for the long term, but when it comes to building a little name recognition, oh la la.

The Ladders prides itself on being a premium job search brand, hand-selecting its jobs and (and job seeking members) to connect professionals with high-paying positions. For some time the brand has been using the term “$100K+ employers,” which will probably rankle copyeditors and English majors, but makes sense to everyone else (even “$100K+ employers”).

The jobs offered by the site are the kind of acronym-heavy ones one might expect from the brand’s positioning in the careers space: EVPs, CFOs, VPs of Finance, IT, Sales and so on.

One absurdity of the job search business is that when job markets are terrible, business is good. But that doesn’t mean the job market in which The Ladders plies its trade is terrible just because the overall unemployment remains crushingly high.

While the unemployment rate for US college graduates is at its highest since the 1970s at about 5%, it is still only half the unemployment rate of high school graduates alone. The employment prospects for many high level professionals, in fact, is excellent.

TheLadders has been around for a while and many have seen its commercials, which have always been above average. But, to its detriment, the brand’s ads are almost too clever by half. The “executive chair safari” 2009 Super Bowl ad (below) is a perfect example.

It’s clear that The Ladders has changed gears, with its new ads are a lot more in-your-face, or at least in the face of people looking for $100K+ jobs. The campaign is even sussed out by industry for increased viral appeal, including “Sales” and “Tech” versions (below).

The press release about the ads notes that “Actual members of TheLadders are featured in the advertising, and were selected from nearly 700 members who applied to be included.”

Will the ads make or break the brand? No. But they should create some deserved attention, especially if turn up at the Super Bowl. The spirit, if not the exact execution, of the ads also reminds us of one of the greatest job search brand campaigns of all time:

TheLadders.com Brand Sexes Up

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