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CareerBuilder Takes Advertising In-House, Drops Outside Agency

May 8, 2009
After an at times tumultuous relationship with ad agencies, the No. 1 job site in the country, CareerBuilder, will no longer work with an agency of record and is taking its advertising in-house.

The move ends CareerBuilder’s two-year run with Wieden & Kennedy of Portland, Oregon, which picked up the account after the job site’s acrimonious split with its former creative shop, Chicago-based Cramer-Krasselt.

“We’ve had a very positive, collaborative experience with Wieden & Kennedy and put together a fantastic campaign with breakthrough creative,” CareerBuilder chief marketing officer Richard Castellini said in a statement. “We made a strategic decision to change our advertising approach and leverage the expertise of our advertising pros in-house.”

“It is unfortunate that, in this economy, companies have had to make these tough decisions,” Tom Blessington, Wieden’s managing director, said in a statement. “CareerBuilder.com was truly a great client, and we value their partnership and friendship. We wish them all the best in their future endeavors and would love to have the chance to work with them again down the road.”

CareerBuilder said it plans to continue the current campaign from Wieden, called “Start Building.”

CareerBuilder earned a reputation as an ungrateful client thanks to a bitter parting with indie shop CK after a successful five-year partnership that saw the online jobs site overtake rival Monster in total listings and online traffic.

In the wake of the split—which CK chief executive Peter Krivkovich had blamed on a Super Bowl spot’s ranking on USA Today’s “Ad Meter” poll—CareerBuilder threw its account into review. CK refused to take part and resigned the account.

CareerBuilder’s measured media spending has steadily declined in recent years. It tracked about $60 million in 2005 and 2006, but that dropped to a total of $52 million in 2007, and then reduced again to about $44 million in 2008, according to TNS Media Intelligence data.

Much of CareerBuilder’s marketing dollars have always been devoted to online, though the brand is no stranger to TV advertising, including buying up expensive Super Bowl airtime.

CareerBuilder’s owners include three companies largely or entirely devoted to the newspaper business, which has tanked in the recession largely due to pullbacks in advertising.

Gannett, the country’s biggest newspaper owner, reported a nearly 60 percent drop in profit for the first quarter; even its newspapers’ Web sites, excluding USAToday.com, posted a 20 percent ad-revenue decline in the quarter. McClatchy reported a $37.7 million loss from continuing operations in the first quarter. And Tribune Co., which owns papers including the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune, filed for bankruptcy protection in December.

Microsoft, CareerBuilder’s only non-media owner, last month suffered the first year-over-year quarterly revenue drop in its history, and the company initiated another round of employee cuts on Wednesday, May 6.

For the first quarter of 2009, CareerBuilder posted North American revenue of $141 million.

“While the industry is trending down year over year, CareerBuilder’s decline has been significantly less than that of our competitors,” a spokeswoman said.


Filed by Rupal Parekh of Advertising Age, a sister publication of Workforce Management. Advertising Age reporters Nat Ives and Jeremy Mullman contributed to this report. To comment, e-mail editors@workforce.com.


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