Super Bowl Advertising

CareerBuilder Takes a Pass

23 Jan , 2013  

One of the advertisers I’ll miss seeing on the Super Bowl this year is CareerBuilder.

CareerBuilder first advertised on the game back in 2005. The brand was quite new at the time; Monster.com dominated the space and CareerBuilder was a much smaller challenger. CareerBuilder ran a charming commercial featuring the now iconic chimps. The Kellogg Super Bowl Advertising Review panel gave it a B, a good grade (the average grade is a C). The chimps did even better for CareerBuilder in 2006; the Kellogg panel gave that spot one of the top scores of the year, an A.

CareerBuilder moved away from the chimps in 2007, running an ad that compared office life to surviving in a jungle. Perhaps the brand’s lowest moment came in 2008 when its Super Bowl ad featured a heart graphically emerging from a lady’s chest. The Kellogg panel gave CareerBuilder a D that year.

CareerBuilder rebounded in 2009 and 2010, receiving an A and a B. The 2010 spot featured people with no pants. Then, at long last, Career Builder brought back the chimps in 2011 and 2012.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=xYJ9EW50h1I

During this time, CareerBuilder grew to become a category leader, eventually overtaking Monster.com. The Super Bowl clearly played an important part in this growth.

So why is CareerBuilder taking a pass in 2013?

The company isn’t offering much of an explanation; the official line is that CareerBuilder is spending on other things, which I’m certain is true.

I suspect there are several reasons.

One problem is simple; the chimps are an issue. Over the years, animal rights groups criticized CareerBuilder for using chimps in its spot. The criticism reached a new peak in 2012.

Without the chimps, CareerBuilder would have to develop a new campaign. This is costly and complicated and, as the team at CareerBuilder has learned, not easy to do when you have established equity in an iconic image like the chimps.

It wasn’t clear how much the Super Bowl was doing for Career Builder, either. After eight years, how much more growth is there? What is the return on investment, anyway? The only way to really know is to skip a year and see what happens. This is a real life test market.

I suspect the marketers at CareerBuilder will again be watching this year’s Super Bowl with great interest. This year, however, they won’t be watching to see how well their ad does; they will be watching to see what happens when they sit out.

I predict we will see them back on the Super Bowl in 2014.


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