BOSTON - Advertising pioneer, Rosser Reeves, was once confronted by a client who demanded why he should continue to pay Mr. Reeves a hefty annual retainer when the same ad ran year after year without ever changing. Legend has it that Mr. Reeves sniffed dryly, "To keep your people from changing what I've done." And that was that.
Evidently, some Madison Avenue marketing executives have never heard that story.
Monster.com used to have one of the best taglines in the world: "Today is the day." That tagline was developed by Donny Deutsch of NBC's The Big Idea, and in my opinion, it was itself a big idea. Launched in 2002, Mr. Deutsch recalls in his book ...
Today's the Day positioned Monster to stand for empowerment; you can seize the day when you have a Monster day. It was a call to action. Today's the day you can find a job. Today's the day you can upgrade your skills. Today's the day you can network with new people. Today's the day you can change your life. We made Monster.com into a way of life, an ethos.
It was a monster tagline, and Deutsch, the agency, made it the centerpiece of a $90 million campaign. It was highly effective, which is basically what you want in a tagline. It captured the essence of Monster's image in just four syllables, and the promise of that tagline fired the imagination of any jobseeker who heard it (no pun intended).
But somebody changed what Mr. Deutsch did, leaving Mr. Reeves spinning in his grave.
Launched earlier this year, Monster's new tagline is "Your calling is calling." BIG mistake. Great taglines should stand the test of time and should rarely change -- if ever. Taglines should be exciting, memorable, and clutter busting. "Your calling is calling" is confusing and redundant and begs to be intentionally ignored like a telemarketer at dinnertime.
Most jobseekers don't know what they want, they only know what they don't want. They wouldn't know a calling if it bit them, but they do know when their current job sucks. And they are a lot more likely to say to themselves "Today's the day I tell my boss to step off" than ""Hey, what's that sound? Is that my calling calling??" A calling is vague and abstract, and abstractions don't sell in a tough economy -- especially when they are practically irrelevant to the target market.
Monster should have called me first.
Look it: Advertising is (and always will be) about one thing ... SELLING. If I were confusing and redundant, I'd never close a single deal. Nobody would. Why should the principles of selling for Monster's $90 million dollar sales rep be any different?