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IBMs Ads Target Customers, Pay Off With Recruits

Big Blue featured employees -- including even their contact information -- in a year of print ads.

October 30, 2000
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One company that has used its employees in its ads is tech giant IBM. Thecompany is refashioning itself from an "old economy" hardware companyinto a "new economy" services company.

At the beginning of 1997, IBM began a campaign that featured employees innewspaper and magazine advertisements.

It was a tremendous recruiting tool, which it was not designed to be.

The company figured that by showing the world the variety of tasks itsemployees undertook on a daily basis, people would understand the far-reachingrange of services the company had to offer.

"We wanted for people to see who’s actually going to do thework," says spokesman John Bukovinsky. "We have services people handlevery specialized tasks. Some of them are involved in Web security, some are inconsultative roles, some are system integration specialists…"

In putting the campaign together for its Global Services division, IBM firstcontacted managers and had them detail the types of jobs and descriptions ofindividual employees. Managers also described their best performers, and thebest employees at customer services.

The company also put out word of the campaign to employees. In all, a groupof about interested 150 employees were whittled down to about 50 to be featured.

The advertisements featured employees and their "resumes" -- whatthey do, the customers they work with, and actual contact information for thoseindividuals.

The series of ads ran from early 1999 through the end of the year, and laterin some countries.

Says Bukovinsky, "One of the great things is that it was a tremendousrecruiting tool, which it was not designed to be. Prospective employees likedthe fact that employees got some high visibility. They also became aware of therange of jobs we had. It’s an expensive want ad but it was an addedbenefit."

"If you looked at the ads," Bukovinsky says, "these are peoplefrom an extremely diverse workforce. Both based on their physical appearance(and their job duties). We wanted to show a wide range of skills. It did notappear as a homogenous people … which surely helps in recruiting. That has tobe an advantage."

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