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WTF are they smoking over at TheLadders?

Feb 02, 2011 / Product & App Reviews / Trackback

I’m an open minded hip 2011 kind of HR prac­ti­tioner but I am dis­mayed that an orga­ni­za­tion that touts itself as the place for lead­ers to find their next oppor­tu­nity has made a com­mer­cial adver­tise­ment not dis­sim­i­lar to the “sketchy com­edy” video that recently rocked the Navy and vio­lates every employee hand­book ever writ­ten by putting cheap jokes before deco­rum and dignity.

In the job search, you gotta show employ­ers what you got. — TheLadders

If sex­ual innu­en­dos salty with par­tial nudity, inap­pro­pri­ate touch­ing of one­self and oth­ers in the work­place and poten­tially haz­ardous behav­ior by climb­ing on fur­ni­ture and danc­ing on desks make one­self more attrac­tive to employ­ers is the mes­sage The­Lad­ders pur­ports to con­vey — they have succeeded.

If The­Lad­ders made this com­mer­cial using the same psy­cho­log­i­cal ploy a child does to com­mit inap­pro­pri­ate acts to gain atten­tion — because any atten­tion is atten­tion, they have succeeded.

I can’t sup­port pro­pa­ganda that goes against the very prin­ci­ples of pro­fes­sion­al­ism and dig­nity that are the cor­ner­stone of my career. I got where I am because of my pro­fes­sional com­pe­ten­cies and ver­i­fi­able accom­plish­ments — not because I laid on a board­room table with a skirt on lift­ing my leg in the air while caress­ing myself.

If The­Lad­ders thinks this is cool hip and fun then call me a prude — but as soon as I hit the pub­lish but­ton on this post I’m can­cel­ing my sub­scrip­tion, because I no longer have respect for their on the job behavior…



46 comments
Guest
Guest

You guys are taking this way too seriously. It is a satire commercial about the rediculous models swooning over products. The Ladders is saying that they will take you as you are and work with you. They used normal people for that reason. It has a shock value that is utterly hilarious and leads to an almost endless replay value. First time I watched it I was too busy wide-eyed and laughing to notice what or who the commercial was about. I rewound it, watched a couple more times, finding time between chuckles to notice what they were saying. I had not heard of The Ladders before, and there was not quite enough information given in the commercial to find it out. I was intrigued, and that is when they have you hooked. At the very least you will go to their webiste to learn more and next thing you know you have their name bouncing around in your head. All thanks to a shock value commercial that was hilariously received. The Ladders is not literally saying to dress provocative and lay on furniture. It is metaphorically representing normal people as models being seductive with the "audience" being the potential hiring company. As a recap: They are metaphorically saying we will make you irresistable, they used normal people instead of models for the down to earth realistic factor, and they stood out above and beyond their competition. Here I am years later writing a college paper on this advertisement simply because it still stands out clearly in my head as a fantastic advertisement with almost all meaning being deeper meaning requiring analytical thought to find. If you cannot see beyond the surface of this commercial and recognize the success here then I have a feeling you are one of those kind of people who are overly politcially correct and are offended by everything and I pity you, truly.

Anil
Anil

Cheesy seems to have been the mantra at the Superbowl. Karla you nailed it, the AD does not represent the demographics Ladders is serving.2010 was year of Kim Kardashian and Jersey Shore, folks are talking leaf out of their books, at-least they were original? How far would you go to drive traffic? where is the class?

Anil
Anil

Cheesy seems to have been the mantra at the superbowl. Karla you nailed it, the AD does not represent the demographics Ladders is serving.

pink_elephant
pink_elephant

As someone who has used the Ladders and working in the HR space I think the Ad communicates what it should. Too often job seekers and candidates spend too much time dressing up their resumes, picking a suit and and in general go about a job search in a slightly misguided manner. Being that we have an over 9% unemployment rate, desperation often also plays a role in their job search. Taking that idea and extrapolating it is what this commercial is about. Letting job seekers know that there is a place that can actually work with them as people individually working with real humans as opposed to 'resume upload 1 million and 1' I think is a good thing. To apply all the stereotypes that seem to be applied below portrays exactly the issues with the HR community in general. Maybe the commercial is not about diversity, or workplace impropriety or body image; maybe, it's just about what it shows: Persons unsure of how to go about a job search and needing guidance. extrapolating it is what I think this

Elissa Wolf
Elissa Wolf

Karla, Thank you for expressing so articulately and on point. Bravo!!!!

Guy
Guy

WTF? What does that mean?

Guest
Guest

I'm glad to see others are not happy with TheLadders campaign. I asked a bunch of friends (in their 40's and early 50's) if they saw it and they loved it. I don't get it. If you watched the super bowl, we had cats and dogs driving cars and that is the reason to buy the car, it is dog tested. What does that tell you about the car as a product? Performance, etc. This is a dumming down of the consumer. It flashes, it dances, its provocative, but it doesn't tell me anything about what it is I'm buying into. And unfortunately, people buy into it. TheLadders commercial is trashy and I think it deminishes its purpose and reputation.

Professional Search
Professional Search

Kudos Karla, my take on this nasty thing is that it is supposed to have a subliminal appeal to people who are more challenged than the average bear at finding 100K positions. Minority, unattractive, overweight, gay. So the ladders is sending the message that we can make you irresitible and attractive. That's just sick. I used the Ladders prior to 2008, cancelled because i found that a great number of resumes were far out of date, people whom we tired to contact did not respond. When we tracked them down they had long ago changed jobs and had tried to remove their profiles but they had not been removed. They were irritated that they were being contacted by recruiters from an online resume that was over three years old.I received the passport invitation. Sent them a note back that they could not pay me to use the Ladders after that obnoxious, sleazy commercial and i would advise any job seeker to stay away from them.Interestingly in late Nov. and December i received two resumes forwarded to me from the Ladders. How nice. The only problem was that they were in response to a job posting from 2007 that of course was long since filled and gone. I sent notes to both candidates letting them know that we no longer used the Ladders and that the position was only posted in 2007. One wrote back and said he had never used the Ladders and didn't know how they got his resume. Maybe they are board scraping resumes as well as jobs to lure people back. It's my understanding that they have had big turnover at the executive level and business is circling the drain. I sincerely hope this ad pulls the plug for good so 24 year old kids are not giving career advice to 100K up experienced candidates. What a sham.I am embarassed for those people who made fools of themselves by doing that ad. Who would do a thing like that and who would continue to employ them after they did. Certainly would not be me. The Ladders was off my list long ago but with this disgusting ad i will go out of my way to tell candidates to stay away from them.

Shennee Rutt
Shennee Rutt

My opinion is : It was a "disgustingly Inappropriate" ad. Not even for late night tv. Way to go Karla. for calling The Ladders out on the carpet.

Tracy Brisson
Tracy Brisson

Good for you and great post. I've never used The Ladders, but always had a general idea it would be a good resource for me if I decided entrepreneurship was not for me and I wanted to go back into corporate. But I find these ads so offensive, I am not sure why a potential user of their services (on the recruiter or job-seeker side) would take their service seriously. Bad. Business. Decision.

Nick Corcodilos
Nick Corcodilos

Karla, Nice to see HR speak up about TheLadders' behavior. Trouble is, they will chalk the complaints about the ad up as a "learning experience" with their advertising firm. The bigger trouble is, the ad really does reflect the company's attitude about job hunting and hiring. It's about FLUFF. Like Marc Cenedella's regular e-mails to his "members," FLUFF.In the end, what matters most is voting with your wallet. Kudos to you for canceling. My own blog audience complains that it's different with them. When they try to cancel, Ladders keeps billing them, because apparently there is a clause buried in the "agreement" that says a member agrees to recurring monthly billing... and by the time many realize what's happened, Ladders' policy is NO REFUNDS. So check your statements.

jnykolai
jnykolai

I agree with Krista's observation. I'm also curious if the Ladders feels that because there's a perception of diversity in the ad (asians, men, women, various shapes-sizes and looks) that this would be more acceptable by the general public?

JasonCBlais
JasonCBlais

Karla, kudos to you for putting your values and ideals on display and in to action. This does reek of desperation while at the same time hinting at a serious misunderstanding of the market this business serves. Coming from a branding background, I do understand that it's easier, cheaper, and faster to make a splash by being funny/provocative. That being said, it doesn't always mean it's the best option for every business. Watching this video as an HR/Recruiting business partner, I can't help but question what audience this will actually attract to the pool of candidates within the Ladders. It doesn't appear to be targeting professional, respectful, serious professionals, and if it's not, than who is it targeting?

Krista OgburnFrancis
Krista OgburnFrancis

Maybe they thought they could get away with it because they included so many men in the ad?

Brenda L.
Brenda L.

Karla,You are right about: "If The­Lad­ders made this com­mer­cial using the same psy­cho­log­i­cal ploy a child does to com­mit inap­pro­pri­ate acts to gain atten­tion — because any atten­tion is atten­tion, they have succeeded." Those were my same thoughts when I saw it. I plan to take a survey of my sons and their friends to gain a perspective on what they think about it. Two of them are advertising majors, so this should be interesting.

Karla Porter
Karla Porter

Pink - I don't disagree with you on what the commercial is "supposed to" mean or their extrapolation. It's about how it was done. I don't agree that what the commercial shows is "persons unsure of how to go about a job search and needing guidance. Tun down the volume and that's not apparent at all. It's just a bunch of normal white collar peeps acting inappropriately in an office.

Karla Porter
Karla Porter

Thanks for the comment Elissa - we need to be strong and stand up to people putting messages in our faces. Let's hope they get the message.

Karla Porter
Karla Porter

Guy: Why are you and Guest spatting on my website? Spelling errors are very common, don't you think you are being a tad harsh with Guest? "Dumbing down" is an absolutely acceptable phrase http://www.wordiq.com/definiti....

Guy
Guy

I don't think Dumming is a word. Maybe its working.

Guest
Guest

You are just stupid. Deal with it.

Karla Porter
Karla Porter

Very well put Sandra. I was similarly dismayed yesterday when I saw an ad on a blog of someone well known in the career blogosphere that was a pic of a voluptuous mouth being caressed with a phallic lipstick asking "Are you attractive enough?" Puke............ why all of a sudden is attractive candidate being equated with this kind of garbage? It's inappropriate. Why not just turn the clock back to 1950's secretarys sitting on their bosses laps.

Karla Porter
Karla Porter

Shennee - Let's call it for what it is, B roll executive soft porn (especially those 2 guys crawling over one another)... Maybe OK for late night, but not for a commercial about an executive job board.

Karla Porter
Karla Porter

Tracy - I needed a whole post to say what you did in 3 words "Bad. Business. Decision." - Thanks for stopping by!

Karla Porter
Karla Porter

Nick - Could be I was fortunate enough to only have signed up for their free Passport account - but I no longer even want their free stuff. I'll be honest, I have never found the need to pay for a premium service to be a successful recruiter but I feel for those who pay in good faith for a service and then get the run around and don't receive spectacular customer service . Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

Laurie Ruettimann
Laurie Ruettimann

Let's get a chubby white guy, an asian, a black woman, and a white woman with glasses. None of them blonde. Put them in ugly business clothes. YES! THIS IS A BRILLIANT IDEA!

ellenlebowitz
ellenlebowitz

Yeah - tacky. Reminds me of everything I read about Scores before it was shut down.

Karla Porter
Karla Porter

jnykolai - There's nothing worse and more transparent than when you see an advertisement modeled after United Nations, trying to be PC. I can just hear the casting director screaming, "Hey, we need an Asian female over here on the table!"...

Karla Porter
Karla Porter

Thanks for the visit and comment Jason - Agreed 100% - I love good humor too but this can only be targeting desperate people because no one else would take it seriously or without offense. The chance of that type of individual gaining employment at one of the over $100k jobs they pride themselves in posting seems contradictory to the image TheLadders usually tries to portray.

Karla Porter
Karla Porter

Brilliant observation Krista - That way the few women who were in it can look even seedier and whoriffic.

Karla Porter
Karla Porter

Brenda - Please come back to report on what the findings are! As far as I'm concerned they lost credibility with this stunt - it does nothing to enhance the perception that they understand the needs of executives.

Karla Porter
Karla Porter

Thanks Trish. I signed up for their new Passport account the other day, and I have been quoted on their site twice in their blog but I'm not a hypocrite. I canceled the account and when it asked me to fill in the field with why I was canceling I entered the URL to this post.

Guy
Guy

WTF? Don't you think you taking TheLadders commercial a little to seriously. I for one have heard plenty of stories about peoples lives being changed due to finding their next great opportunity/career through TheLadders. For all of you who would not use a site due to their branding and marketing even if you know it works, you need to stop acting all high and mighty. Actually dont. 1 less person to compete with in this volitile job market.

Karla Porter
Karla Porter

Guest: What is this little argument going on here? Do you two know each other?

Karla Porter
Karla Porter

Laurie - I would love to know who did the creative on this.

Karla Porter
Karla Porter

Nick - I'm going to print your comment and hang it in my office. I have the sneaky suspicion that some of the comments by anonymous posters I see sprinkled around the cyberverse defending TheLadders, the commercial, and in particular commenting on my blog post, are inside jobs..

Nick Corcodilos
Nick Corcodilos

@guest: Using WTF is not very subtle? Your entire comment could be addressed to TheLadders, eh? "Sex sells" in Ladders' commercials -- not very subtle. "Completely hypocritical" -- TheLadders sells "exclusive" job listings, while Marc Cenedella admits more than half the jobs on Ladders are scraped from other "free" job boards. "Capture attention"? Sleazy job applicants sliding across desks... TheLadders is being congratulated for state-of-the-art sex commercials by the "industry experts" it has paid off (http://corcodilos.com/blog/272...). Sanctimony? Go read what TheLadders' "mercenary army" is saying about TheLadders' critics.Karla's post is dead-on, honest, and colloquial. I've called the ladders a pig, a pimp, and a liar. How's that? There is nothing subtle about the hordes of Ladders customers who pay for the service and cry fraud. And they ask, "WTF?"Karla's motives seem quite transparent: She's outing a fraud. What have you done for the world today?

Karla Porter
Karla Porter

Paddy - Please enlighten me as to what my "motives" are. I have no problem at all with TheLadders or any other company capturing attention, it's what they do with it once they have it. You crack me up with your use of sanctimony. I simply don't respect the use of provocativeness of the commercial in regard to professionalism... and if you read all the comments, I'm not the only one.

guest
guest

your use of the acronym WTF is not very subtle and completely hypocritical. in the end your use of WTF is intended to capture attention which it has -good for you. but dont then throw stones at theladders. stop the sanctimony. your motives are transparent.

Karla Porter
Karla Porter

Guy - You see, there you go again... I'm from Wilkes-Barre ____________ (fill in the blank with your favorite stereotype). I never said "no one" ever had results with TheLadders. I said their approach is in my view misdirected and I canceled my free RECRUITER account not job seeker account. I'll happily find my candidates elsewhere. Thanks for the visit and comments - our conversation is over.

Guy
Guy

Bigoted Redneck? Aren't you from Wilkes Barre? How am I bigoted? Because I don't agree with the things that you are writing? And I do have "skin in the game". I found my job through the ladders. In terms of "sex sells", the individuals in the commercial aren't models. Are you attracted to them? Karla, think about the message before blogging. And to be quite honest I am not a huge fan of the commercial but I am certainly not going to take myself out of the 100K+ job market due to it.

Karla Porter
Karla Porter

I don't think I am taking the commercial too seriously at all. The “sex sells” approach in regard to marketing placement services and being an attractive candidate is irresponsible.Additionally - from the stories I hear, I'm not so sure it's that great of a product. I have been in this field a long time and your comment "I have heard plenty of stories about peoples lives being changed due to finding their next great opportunity/career through TheLadders" sounds suspiciously like you may have skin in the game.High and mighty Guy? I don’t think anyone is acting that way here. However, I could understand how a bigoted redneck could interpret it that way. Lucky for you I have an open posting policy. I know a lot of bloggers who would never allow your rudeness on their site.By the way – most of my readers are not job seekers, they are employment professionals. Probably a good thing you have concealed your identity.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Porter, one of the ear­li­est of the recruit­ment blog­gers to com­ment, titled her post “WTF are they smok­ing over at The Lad­ders?” In case you are in doubt, she didn’t think it appro­pri­ate. Nor did those who com­mented on her […]

  2. […] Porter, one of the ear­li­est of the recruit­ment blog­gers to com­ment, titled her post “WTF are they smok­ing over at The Lad­ders?” In case you are in doubt, she didn’t think it appro­pri­ate. Nor did those who com­mented on her […]

  3. […] Porter, one of the ear­li­est of the recruit­ment blog­gers to com­ment, titled her post WTF are they smok­ing over at The Lad­ders? In case you are in doubt, she didnt think it appro­pri­ate. Nor did those who com­mented on her […]

  4. […] Porter, one of the ear­li­est of the recruit­ment blog­gers to com­ment, titled her post WTF are they smok­ing over at The Lad­ders? In case you are in doubt, she didnt think it appro­pri­ate. Nor did those who com­mented on her […]

  5. […] Porter, one of the ear­li­est of the recruit­ment blog­gers to com­ment, titled her post “WTF are they smok­ing over at The Lad­ders?” In case you are in doubt, she didn’t think it appro­pri­ate. Nor did those who com­mented on her […]