Creativity triumphs

Recognised as the largest and most prestigious event of its kind, the
Recruitment Advertising Awards reward the brightest people and best recruitment
advertising in the business. Here the judges discuss this year’s standard of
entries and what they look for in a winner

The standard of entries this year is excellent. Particularly in light of the
economic downturn in the second half of 2001," says Paul Stafford,
managing director of advertising agency Stafford Long & Partners and
chairman of the judges at this year’s Recruitment Advertising Awards.

"I had suspected it might not be the case as certain sectors, such as
telecoms, are currently laying people off rather than hiring. It has been a
pleasant surprise to find so much originality. The agencies have done extremely
well and achieved a very high standard."

At a time where business is battening down the hatches in all departments,
praise like this speaks volumes.

And this view isn’t just espoused by Stafford either. After three days of
scrutinising 650 entries in 17 different categories, the consensus among RAD
judges is that this year signals a creative triumph over economic adversity.

Some even believe the economic conditions are inspiring advertisers to take
risks that would never be allowed in more affluent circumstances. Perhaps this
confirms that necessity is the mother of invention after all.

Julia Underwood, One2One recruitment manager, says: "A lot of the
agencies have worked hard at finding new angles on recruitment and a lot of
entries are not just based on paper advertising.

"There are some brilliant, innovative ideas that really asked the
company to put its head on the block." And this is despite client briefs
that were frequently tailored for rudimentary approaches that have been tried
and tested countless times before.

Samantha Diamond, managing director of Ward Diamond Advertising, says:
"There are so many restrictions on recruitment advertisers at the moment.
When people think laterally around the problems and arrive at something that is
original and attracts the right people – that’s when the ‘wow’ factor comes
into it."

While it is almost impossible to define ‘wow’ without moving into the realms
of ‘gut feeling’ and ‘hairs standing on the back of the neck’, this provided
the defining line between a shortlisted entry and one that was not taken
further by the judges.

The judges focused on the key concept of targeting – most notably, how well
the advertisements found the right audience, enticed people to apply and spoke
a language they understood.

Other key factors were cost effectiveness and overall success in finding the
right candidates for the right jobs.

Ewan McCulloch, HR controller of Comet Group, says: "For me, whatever
media is used has to be sufficiently creative so that it reaches people in a
new and imaginative way. But it is completely useless unless it drives response
and attracts the individuals that are needed."

Entries were rated on effectiveness, budget, typography, style, approach and
level of creativity. The scores were then used to produce a shortlist and, eventually,
a winner in each category.

The process has been a learning experience for the judges. Mandy Lingard,
development manager at HSBC bank, says: "Looking at the campaigns it is
interesting to see how very different they all are. It is a real treat to see
such a variety of work. You don’t often get to appreciate the full range of
recruitment advertising and the high quality work that goes into it all."

Entries include new media and old, audio and visual and newspaper
advertising. But within all of them the judges noticed a trend towards
headline- and copy-driven ads, as opposed to striking visual efforts.

Several judges noted a development of an increasingly technological approach
to recruitment advertising, including web advertising. Today, it is often the
case that newspapers are used to attract a candidate’s interest. If they want
to find out more information they then have to locate the relevant website.

McCulloch says: "Recruitment advertising is moving on. Because one
person can now access information from so many different media, recruiters are
becoming more creative.

"Thanks to websites and e-cards people no longer have to take up inches
of newspaper describing a job. People can find out about vacancies in so many
other ways."

Overall, originality has been the key criteria for the judges. Underwood
says: "I was looking for the best work of the year – something that
companies and agencies can both see as a new exciting idea – a new angle on
attracting people to positions."

Diamond agrees. "I was really looking for advertising where people have
approached the process in an original way. There are a few that really stand
out as so original – those were the ones that I really wanted to reward."

The Recruitment Advertising awards will be held on 17 January at the Great
Room, Grosvenor House, London.  For more
information see

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