Ad Popularity Poll Genesis of CareerBuilder Agency Review


It seems $50 million dollar marketing decisions can now be made on the basis of winning or losing a newspaper's ad popularity contest. Yes, that's right. CareerBuilder has placed its account in review because its ads did not make a top ten appearance in USA Today's Super Bowl ad poll, a tiny survey based on just a few hundred people with absolutely nothing to do with whether or not an ad affected sales.

Cramer-Krasselt President Peter Krikovich is pissed. Livid. Dumfounded. And steaming mad and tells Advertising Age he responded to CareeBuilder's opening a review based on the poll by asking, "You have to be fucking kidding me, right?" The agency has resigned the account and will not participate in the review.

In an internal memo to agency staff, Krivkovich wrote, "To our amazement, to our total astonishment, all that astounding business success was less important than one poll. C-Kers, we have to tell you - in our entire history, hell in the history of this crazy thing called advertising, I'm not sure there has ever been any thing as baseless or as unbelievable as that. It's so ludicrous and they are so serious about that poll it's almost funny."

Even in the face of an amazing five year increase in business, skyrocketing job listings, overtaking behemoth Monster and increasing brand awareness by 64 percent, CareerBuilder, amazingly and illogically, chose to change agencies. Granted this year's CareerBuilder ads were not the best but to make the decision to change agencies based solely on an ad popularity contest is a new low for a marketer. We do hope there's more to the story but Krivkovich says CareerBuilder told him it was because of the poll. We are not easily shocked by anything in this business but we are a bit stunned a marketer would cite USAToday's Super Bowl poll as reason for launching a review.

Written by Steve Hall    Comments (16)     File: Agencies, Brands, Strange, Worst     Feb-24-07  
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You gotta be fucking kidding me.

An agency is whining because they lost an account because it didn't rate highly?

Agencies don't crow about the high rankings they get from similarly stupid focus groups and surveys? They don't use these rankings to go after new business?


Seems fair to me. Score high you win, score low you lose.

How it effects sales / awareness has never been part of the equation.

Posted by: Snake on February 24, 2007 10:44 AM

Snake. Are you high? Though it should, the fickle nature of this business certainly doesn't give much credence to actual results when it comes to moving accounts around but come on! To base the launch of a review on a popularity contest? That's just wrong in so many ways. The least CareerBuilder could have done was come up with some real facts as to why they may have been displeased with the agency's work. At minimum they could have said they thought the Super Bowl ads "weren't in line with our desired brand direction" or some fluffy shit like that.

How advertising effects sales/awareness should *always* be part of the equation. It's the only thing that should matter. Sadly, decisions are made based on stupid things such as not winning enough Clios or because some new CMO wants to make his mark or, yes, a newspaper's ad popularity poll.

Posted by: Steve Hall on February 24, 2007 11:29 AM

Steve Hall: thanks for endorsing my point:
you want "fluffy shit" for a reason rather than honesty "we lost in the popularity contest."

And decisions are because the agency didn't win enough awards or because the CMO wants to make his mark.

Why all the hand-wringing?

Posted by: Snake on February 24, 2007 04:06 PM

Not surprising. Clients are stupid.

I once had a concept/storyboard killed because the guy on the board wasn't wearing khakis. No lie.

Posted by: Me on February 24, 2007 11:11 PM

listen, if you spend however many millions they did for placement of and ad in the Super Bowl, you sure as hell better place in the top 10 if you're hanging your hat on creativity.

Posted by: you on February 25, 2007 12:51 AM

listen, if you spend however many millions they did for placement of and ad in the Super Bowl, you sure as hell better place in the top 10 if you're hanging your hat on creativity.

Posted by: you on February 25, 2007 12:52 AM

To "you" above: All 57 advertisers paid the same $2.6 million per 30 seconds, so there can't possibly be the expectation that cost alone gets an advertiser into the top 10.

And how about this point: USA Today is owned by Gannett, which also owns between 35 and 45 percent of Careerbuilder. Could you imagine how awkward it would have been if one of the Careerbuilder spots had finished in the top 3 of that newspaper's rather unscientific rankings?

People would have been screaming about conflicts of interest and journalistic credibility. If the USA Today folks (and Gannett corporate) had been thinking, they could not have allowed their commercials to be rated alongside the others in order to avoid the appearance of impropriety.

Posted by: Rochester NY on February 25, 2007 06:03 AM

Gannett's reps on the Careerbuilder board of directors aren't exactly ad industry (or tech industry, for that matter) heavyweights. Sue Clark-Johnson has a newspaper background (and an editorial one at that as opposed to the business side) and Jack Williams has presided over the chain's rather disappointing (translation: slow, bland and revenue-challenged) online migration for more than a decade.

I'm not sure they would have or could have reeled in CEO Matt Ferguson before he made the decision without going through the usual six months of hemming and hawing that takes place at Gannett HQ before each and every decision.

Posted by: CareerPath(etic) survivor on February 25, 2007 06:23 AM

I'm in the ad business and I had no idea Gannett owned any piece of CareerBuilder. I bet 99 percent of people don't. The fact of the matter is this: the notion of placing any, and I mean ANY, credence to a poll as small and as unscientific as USAToday's is just ludicrous, idiotic and an indication someone over at CareerBuildr is pretty stupid.

Posted by: Steve Hall on February 25, 2007 03:24 PM

I am glad he had the dignity and balls to resign the account, versus making his ppl jump through hoops and try to "save" the account. If a client doesn't get it, it's just not worth it.

What a douche.

Posted by: kate on February 25, 2007 09:24 PM

There's almost too much irony in the room for me to stand it...

Clients have complained to agencies for 50 years about caring too much about polls and awards - accolades that mean nothing to their business.

And now, finally, there's an agency who cares about the business above all else yet somehow, they ended up with a client who cares more about a worthless poll.

Maybe global warming really is screwing up the world.

Bad client. Very bad client.


Posted by: James Robinson on February 25, 2007 10:55 PM

Just goes to show. As dumb as agencies can be, clients will always be dumber.

Posted by: chimp on February 26, 2007 01:50 AM

It's all part of the continuing "Family Feud" method of judging advertising. It's used all the time in research (especially in those utterly worthless focus groups).

My congrats to CK for having some testes.

Posted by: Bob on February 26, 2007 09:22 AM

The client should use more accurate results, instead of a focus group (USA Today). There are a lot of sites to get actual votes on advertisements.

Posted by: Steph on February 26, 2007 04:10 PM

It's not about votes, Steph. It should never be about votes of any kind including award show votes. All that matters is sales of some desired shift in brand awareness/understanding.

Posted by: Steve Hall on February 26, 2007 06:23 PM

There is clearly something else going on here. It's not like they scored in the least popular, they were #12 and #13 for heavens sake- so they scored #12 versus #10, ummmm ok.

Anyway, based on the rankings of that poll, I say the agencies are not dumb, the client is not dumb.....the CONSUMER is dumb!...Hello, Sierra Mist in the top 10??? Gotta be friggen kidding me.

Posted by: kate on February 26, 2007 10:55 PM

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