From January through March of 2004 Adecco, the largest staffing and employment services firm in the U.S. and the world (and three-year Cubitt Jacobs & Prosek client), had experienced a barrage of negative media coverage surrounding the results of an Ernst & Young audit of the company’s U.S. financial operations which resulted in the discovery of allegedly questionable accounting practices.
The news of a possible scandal caused the company’s stock price to plummet to a near record-low. The company’s U.S. CEO, global CFO and members of the Board of Directors were either asked to resign or did on their own volition, which caused a severe blow to Adecco employee morale.
With Cubitt Jacobs & Prosek’s traditional PR program elements stifled by Adecco’s legal advisers, the CJP account team focused its efforts on creating a campaign that would not only break through the accounting controversy and negative press but would redirect public relations opportunities and allow Adecco to once again speak to its core competency, putting people to work.
Some of the crucial objectives of the campaign were to: create a positive and timely national campaign to break through controversy and negative press, redirect Adecco’s public relations opportunities and rebuild the brand, illustrate and reinforce Adecco’s core competencies of staffing and employment services, rally Adecco’s U.S. employees around a positive initiative/improve morale and reassure employees, customers, shareholders and all audiences that Adecco’s business is strong and that it continues to be a global leader in its industry.
In planning our strategy we relied heavily upon our own primary research which indicated that people outside of Wall Street circles had little to no knowledge of Adecco’s accounting issues and would continue to identify Adecco with its core competency, putting people to work. For this reason, CJP knew the success of the campaign hinged upon the ability to transcend negative financial media coverage and attract coverage from mainstream business and consumer media.
CJP leveraged the popularity of Donald Trump’s smash-hit The Apprentice to launch a campaign that would build excitement for Adecco among all audiences. Entitled, “You’re Hired!,” the campaign’s hopeful message would be the opposite of the Donald’s weekly catchphrase but would inspire immediate recognition given the ratings of the The Apprentice.
The campaign was launched with national “You’re Hired!” Day on the same day as the season finale of The Apprentice (April 15), a day in which we knew the country would have the phrase “you’re hired” already on its mind.
Given the job market is a concern to people across the country and, therefore, a major daily news story, “You’re Hired” was crafted to become Adecco’s campaign for the year providing regional Adecco experts the opportunity to regularly comment on hiring trends, tips for how to get hired, and data and information about how temporary jobs often turn into permanent employment and also conducted a perception study among 20 key media to determine current perceptions of the company. This helped us with our initial strategy and message planning.
The success of the campaign was based on: the “You’re Hired” launch secured a total of over 920 media placements including Good Day New York, CNN Radio, CBS News in Philadelphia and The Detroit News, more than 400 Adecco employees participated in events across the country and collected more than 1,000 resumes from job-seekers and Adecco executives/branch managers have now become regular commentators on the national and state unemployment reports thanks to the campaign.