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Using LinkedIn or Facebook to find a job is almost de rigueur in many industries. But Alec Brownstein exploited the power of the Web in a different way -- hoping that our urge to know what is being said about us online would work to his advantage.
Brownstein, a 29-year-old advertising copywriter, isn't shy. He had a good job but wanted a more creative one. He identified a handful of ad agencies and creative directors he wanted to work for. Then, he wrote a very short ad and paid for it to appear alongside search results anytime someone Googled those names.
Brownstein admits to frequently searching his own name on Google as kind of a vanity thing, and he was hoping the ad agency guys he targeted would do the same.
"You can set up an ad words campaign in a matter of minutes," Brownstein says. "I thought of the idea and thought, 'Let's just try it.' I didn't have anything to lose." Brownstein spent just $6 for the ads.
'Googling Yourself Is Fun'
The ads, which linked to his website, addressed each individual by name. "Hey," it read, "Googling yourself is a lot of fun. Hiring me is fun, too."
Scott Vitrone and Ian Reichenthal, the co-executive creative directors at advertising giant Young & Rubicam in New York, were among those Brownstein was trying to reach. Both laugh about how they have Googled themselves.
Brownstein's ploy worked. It took several weeks, but eventually the pair at Y&R saw the ad.
"I thought it was funny right off the bat," Reichenthal says. "Then, maybe later, I thought, 'Well, that is a little stalker-y.' "
He laughs as he says this, but Reichenthal describes Brownstein's approach as exquisitely simple and wonders why it hadn't been tried before.
"After all," he says, "people Google themselves all the time."
Vitrone calls the ad oddly personal: "It was like he was talking to us."
A Severed Rubber Hand And An Oven Mitt
The creative directors estimate that hundreds of people contact them every month trying to get jobs. A lot of them, says Reichenthal, resort to gimmicks in their attempt to get noticed. For example, Vitrone and Reichenthal recently got a box with what looked like a severed hand. It was actually a fake rubber version.
The note with the box read: "If you need a hand with any of your upcoming projects call me." Another job-seeker sent in an oven mitt with the admonition, "Look out. My portfolio is coming in next week and it is hot."
Vitrone and Reichenthal weren't impressed.
A Google Success Story
But the Google ad was a different matter. In fact, Brownstein is the only person they've hired whose self-promotion ploy worked.
Vitrone says Brownstein demonstrated the creative talent and innovative thinking they look for in their staff.
Brownstein is now a senior copywriter at Young & Rubicam. His campaign won ad industry awards in the self-promotion category.
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