In the most recent PR Week Career Guide, I came across the section “Employer Zone” a sponsored resource guide in which PR firms can pay for a full page ad followed by a company profile. The company profiles were a good read, and I found the section on company benefits particularly enjoyable. Apparently GolinHarris offers pet care discounts to its employees while Cone PR has an on-site fitness room and Fleishman-Hillard offers domestic-partner benefits. Good stuff.
But the real problem with the guide is not the written profiles but the accompanying ads. Good Lord! Why can’t PR agencies spend some mullah and hire an ad agency to develop their brand ads? Now, this is just my opinion, but I have a pretty keen eye for advertising having worked alongside some great ad agencies in Canada. So here goes my two cents with some of my favourites and not so favourites:
GolinHarris: This one is hilarious. My daughter’s Grade One yearbook had better art direction. The tag line: Real People. Real Stories. The ad shows various digital photos of GH’s events and parties. It’s cute and they probably saved a ton of money using low-res digital shots from someone’s camera. Just a little too saccharine for me. Save it for the internal company newsletter.
Cone PR: Tag line: Find your potential. Then a series of pictures of rubber bands, a plane, a pair of glasses, a mask and a charm bracelet. I don’t get it! I don’t get it! This one is really bugging me!
Ketchum: The copy basically looks like a ransom note. A variety of type face colours and sizes, oddly laid out. The photo is from Bizarroland, too. A woman holding a red umbrella who looks like she is about to take flight. Looks like the front cover of the book The Nanny Diaries. What is she doing with that umbrella? It’s not even raining in the picture. Bloody hell ...
Manning Selvage & Lee: This ad simply makes me want to scratch my head on go, “Hmmmmm? “ The tag line: To change the way others see you, change the way you see yourself. Change minds. Kinda catchy, eh? The ad has a shot of a woman, wait no, it’s a man … no it’s a woman … nope, (is it Pat?) wait a second those shoes are definitely male. I couldn’t tell the gender from the photo because it’s all blurred. And the guy is wearing a white suit!
Porter Novelli: Tag line: Look beyond the obvious. Too bad the creative is so blatantly obvious. A guy peeling an apple only to reveal an orange underneath the peel. Ooooooh, must have taken these guys 10 minutes and a bottle of Cutty Sark to come up with that creative.
Cohn & Wolfe: This has to be that ad that was developed by an account coordinator while she was taking the train into their Manhattan offices. The ad simply reads “Cohn & Wolfe” (I think it's their new logo) with their URL listed on the bottom. Deep. But hey, they were too busy merging with GCI to think about creating an ad. Give them a break.
Weber Shandwick: Finalmente! Very interesting creative and compelling ad copy. It's taken from Weber's web-site so I like the consistency of messaging. An über-cool Asian girl standing on a crate and wearing the latest in street attire, complete with ipod earbuds. Tag line: The Advocate. Love it. It speaks to their future employees and dares to be different. Thank goodness for courage over there.
Equally good …
Ogilvy PR Worldwide: Amazing ad copy, it says everthing: Smart people create new rules. Ya ... Brilliant. Big, bold, simple, typeface, nice use of space. Beautifully laid out. They clearly know their audience.
Oh, wait a second. Isn’t Ogilvy one of the world’s best ad shops too? It figures.