By the 1990s newspapers were facing increasing competition from Internet job sites. In 1995, in order to compete with online sites for advertising revenue, the Tribune Company newspaper chains (whose publications included Newsday, the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, and the Baltimore Sun, and Knight Ridder, publisher of the Kansas City Star, the Miami Herald, and the Philadelphia Inquirer, among others) partnered to create their own online job site, which ultimately evolved into CareerBuilder.com. Their aim was to level the playing field with the online competition, which included Monster.com and HotJobs.com, and to win back helpwanted advertisers. In 2002 the Gannett Company, with publications that included Florida Today, the Arizona Republic, and the Fort Collins Coloradoan, became an equal partner with the Tribune Company and Knight Ridder in the online venture.
Visitors to CareerBuilder.com’s site increased 50 percent from December 2002 to December 2003, helped in part by the marketing campaign ‘‘Smarter Way to Find a Job,’’ created by the company’s Chicago-based ad agency, Cramer-Krasselt. CareerBuilder kicked off 2004 with a new campaign, titled ‘‘Time to Move On.’’ Also created by Cramer-Krasselt, this $17 million campaign was aimed at employed but unhappy workers.
The ‘‘Time to Move On’’ campaign, which was launched on January 5, 2004, and ran until the end of the year, was a success both with job seekers and with the marketing industry. Not only did it increase traffic to the website to 16.2 million unique visits in the weeks following its launch, up from 7.5 million visits for the same period in January 2003, but it also received EFFIE and Tempo awards, with one television spot, ‘‘Bank Teller,’’ being named an Adweek Best Spot.
As the popularity of online career sites grew in the early 1990s, newspapers were feeling the threat from their Internet competitors. Revenues from print help-wanted ads were slipping, as companies shifted their advertising dollars to Internet sites like Monster.com and HotJobs.com. In an effort to compete in the dot-com marketplace and to win back its ad dollars, two of the country’s top newspaper chains—the Chicago-based Tribune Company and Knight Ridder, based in San Jose, California—joined forces to create their own employment website. The fledgling company, which began in 1995 as NetStart, Inc., was renamed CareerBuilder Inc. in 1998. By offering access to 130 newspapers and 400 job sites, CareerBuilder.com soon was going head-to-head with online job site Monster.com and was pushing past HotJobs.com. In 2001 CareerBuilder.com reported more than 5.5 million unique monthly visits and 300,000 job listings. The Virginia-based Gannett Company joined the partnership in 2002, further increasing its reach online and giving CareerBuilder.com an edge over both Monster.com and HotJobs.com.
Cramer-Krasselt was hired in 2002 to help CareerBuilder with its marketing and advertising. In 2003 the company launched a national campaign designed to reach potential job seekers and to encourage them to visit its website, stating that this was ‘‘the smarter way to find a better job.’’ The campaign was awarded a Gold EFFIE in 2004 for successfully changing the rules for how online job sites were advertised, including the decision to decline in joining Monster and HotJobs in buying advertising spots during the Super Bowl. In August 2004 CareerBuilder struck a blow at rival Monster when it won a five-year deal with Microsoft’s MSN, valued at $150 million, a contract that had previously been held by Monster. Through the agreement, CareerBuilder was to provide the content for MSN’s career channels. In addition, in a deal valued at $115 million over a four-year period, CareerBuilder replaced Monster in providing similar services to America Online (AOL). To maintain the momentum, the ‘‘Time to Move On’’ campaign was launched in 2004.
At a time when online job sites typically targeted large companies in search of highly skilled technical workers, CareerBuilder looked at the statistics and the job market and realized that things were changing. Following the dot-com collapse, tech jobs had become scarce, and according to a report by the Associated Press, hourly workers—those in blue-collar and service professions—made up 60 percent of America’s labor force. Adjusting to these changes, CareerBuilder added blue-collar and while-collar hourly workers to its target audience by introducing an effort in January 2003 to connect both unemployed skilled and unemployed hourly workers with employers.
Then, in December 2003, there appeared a report in HR Magazine indicating that a survey done by the Society for Human Resource Management and the Wall Street Journal ’s CareerJournal.com had found that nearly two-thirds of all gainfully employed people were ‘‘extremely likely’’ to begin searching for new jobs within the coming year. Kirk Scott, Cramer-Krasselt’s director of advertising for CareerBuilder, noted further that 85 percent of the people going online in search of jobs were already employed. ‘‘Given the way things in the economy have gone, there is an increased level of dissatisfaction of workers,’’ Scott said. Although CareerBuilder’s previous campaigns had targeted unemployed people looking for jobs, the company’s 2004 campaign shifted its marketing focus toward employed people unhappy in their jobs, whether they were white-collar or blue-collar workers.
The Internet division of Monster Worldwide, Inc. emerged in 1995 when the company acquired a recruitment firm that included an online job site designed to bring together job seekers and employers. The site, which became Monster.com, was a huge success. It primarily attracted high-tech job seekers, who could post their re´sume´s online free of charge, and Fortune 1000 businesses
willing to pay for access to the re´sume´s and to post job positions that were open. Monster.com’s revenues jumped from almost nothing in 1995 to $536 million in 2001, and by 2002 it had become the number one online job site, bumping HotJobs.com from the top spot. Monster.com began slipping, however, as competition from upstart CareerBuilder.com heated up. In 2003 the number of monthly visitors to Monster.com dropped 19 percent, to 15.3 million, from the previous year, and revenue dropped nearly 30 percent as well. As the job market changed and the site’s former clients went the way of the burst dot-com bubble, they took their advertising money with them. In response, Monster.com followed the lead of CareerBuilder.com and began targeting health care, blue-collar, service, and other salaried workers. To emphasize the opportunities for skilled and hourly jobs on its website, Monster.com’s marketing in 2003 included a television spot that showed an out-ofcontrol, driverless semi racing down a road while an unemployed truck driver had a cup of coffee. Despite its efforts, however, Monster.com barely held its lead against the competition. In 2004 it reported 19.6 million visits, compared to CareerBuilder’s 19.3 million. It then launched a new marketing campaign, ‘‘Today’s the Day,’’ designed to encourage job seekers not to delay looking for a new job and to do their search on Monster.com. HotJobs.com, Ltd., founded in 1997, was ranked at the top of the online job sites by 2001. In 2002 the company was voted the ‘‘The Best General Purpose Job Board for Job Seekers,’’ and it was ranked 14 on the Bloomberg Personal Finance Magazine ’s Tech 100 list. It was already beginning to slip against the competition, however. The business was also on the sales block, with its closest competitor, Monster Worldwide, poised to buy it. Yahoo! landed the deal, however, and in February 2002 HotJobs.com became a wholly owned subsidiary of the Internet communications company. In an effort to turn around its declining site visits, the company launched a new campaign, titled ‘‘Rainbow Connection,’’ in 2003. The campaign, which kicked off with television spots during the Super Bowl, targeted underemployed workers and featured people in various job situations singing ‘‘Rainbow Connection,’’ the song made popular by Kermit the Frog in The Muppet Movie. Using the tagline ‘‘Dreams found faster,’’ it also promoted the benefits of searching for a better job online at HotJobs.com. Within 24 hours of the first broadcast of the spot, the company reported that site visits had jumped 40 percent and that submissions of new re´sume´s had increased 53 percent over the same period in the previous week. Although the campaign was considered to be a success, by 2004 the company was firmly entrenched as the number three online job site, behind CareerBuilder.com and Monster.com.
CAREERBUILDER JOINS RANKS OF SUPER BOWL ADVERTISERS
Based on the success of earlier marketing campaigns that had helped place CareerBuilder.com among the top three online job sites, the dot-com announced a national marketing blitz in 2005 to be launched during Super Bowl XXXIX. With its new campaign, CareerBuilder joined the ranks of online job sites Monster.com and HotJobs.com to run television spots during the annual football showdown. The campaign, with the tagline ‘‘A better job awaits,’’ was the company’s largest brand awareness effort since its inception in 1995. Besides the four Super Bowl spots, the campaign included additional television and radio spots and print and outdoor ads.
The challenge of the Chicago-based agency Cramer-Krasselt was to develop a marketing campaign that would achieve CareerBuilder’s goal of reaching people who were unhappy in their jobs. The new campaign also aimed to increase brand awareness among job seekers and to convince them that CareerBuilder.com was not only sympathetic to their plight but also could connect them with more employers than competing online job recruitment sites. The new $17 million campaign, ‘‘Time to Move On,’’ was launched nationwide in January 2004 with three television spots. It was supported with additional radio spots, as well as print and outdoor ads. Television spots appeared during early-morning news broadcasts, prime-time shows, and sports programs on network and cable channels. The print ads were published in newspapers owned by CareerBuilder’s parent companies, the Tribune Company, Knight Ridder, and the Gannett Company.
The three kickoff TV spots featured dissatisfied employees fantasizing about how they could escape their wretched jobs. One spot showed a white-collar office worker being berated by perhaps the nastiest boss in the country. When the boss’s tirade finally ended and he walked away, the suffering employee began eating lunch at his desk. Noticing a smear of ketchup on his lip, the employee pretended to be seriously injured, and an ambulance was called to take him to the hospital. At the first opportunity the unhappy employee jumped out of the ambulance and ran off. Another spot was set in a bank. An unhappily employed teller jumped onto the counter, pretending that the bank was being robbed. After telling everyone to get down, she leaped off the counter and quietly tiptoed out the door. The third spot portrayed a frustrated factory worker making his escape by crawling inside an oversized toy bear. In each spot the voice-over stated, ‘‘There comes a time in some careers when you just need to move on. Plan your great escape at the only job-search engine with over 350 leading newspapers and professional organizations.’’ The tagline, ‘‘The smarter way to find a better job,’’ was carried over from CareerBuilder.com’s 2003 campaign. Print ads pictured disgruntled employees in situations similar to those in the television spots. In one ad an employee neatly dressed in a trim skirt, sweater, and pumps was working in the stockroom of a men’s clothing store. As she leaned over to sort through a cardboard box filled with folded dress shirts, a naked male mannequin behind her swung his foot and placed a swift kick on the unsuspecting woman’s backside, as if to boot her out the door. The copy read, ‘‘Maybe it’s time to move on.’’ Another ad showed a harried-looking man sitting at his desk. The photograph was taken through a half-filled water cooler, giving the impression that the man could not keep his head above water. The copy asked, ‘‘Will you know when it’s time to move on?’’
CareerBuilder.com’s advertising struck a chord with frustrated employees everywhere who were contemplating job changes in the new year. Within one month of the launch of the campaign on January 5, 2004, the company had jumped to become the share leader in the online job search category, with a 117 percent increase in site visits. According to the company, more than 16 million individual visitors logged on to the site in January 2004, following the campaign’s launch, compared to just 7.5 million visitors in January 2003.
In 2005 the ‘‘Time to Move On’’ campaign received a Gold EFFIE Award and two Tempo awards. The EFFIE honor recognized the campaign for successfully moving CareerBuilder.com from the number three online job site to number one by showing that the company understood job seekers and was sympathetic to their problems. The Tempo awards were presented by the Chicago Association of Direct Marketing to recognize leading marketing and creative programs, with ‘‘Time to Move On’’ winning in the broadcast category for both marketing (first place) and creativity (second place).