Applicant pool of more than 400 generated thousands of #L13 application tweets
MINNEAPOLIS – Minneapolis ad agency Campbell Mithun has selected -- via job applications of 13 Career-Launching Tweets -- six young professionals to be its 2011 Lucky 13 summer interns. More than 400 applicants registered to showcase their strengths and their social-media moxie via the Twitter application process, which was announced January 13 and conducted between the dates of February 13-25, 2011. (Yes, that’s 13 days.)
Meet the new 2011 Lucky 13 Interns; see their 13-tweet applications via the hotlinks below:
“Using Twitter gave our applicants the opportunity to showcase their digital understanding and creativity, while highlighting their personality and passion for advertising,” said Debbie Fischer, Campbell Mithun’s vice president, human resources manager. “We were blown away by tweets that basically created personal applicant campaigns by presenting content, industry insights, and, quite frankly, a lot of great humor.”
To see a montage of tweets from across the applicant pool, view this YouTube highlights reel.
Applicants took full advantage of Twitter’s “linking functionality” to present much more than thirteen 140-character messages. “If it was just about 13 tweets, I don’t know if the application process would have been so enriching,” wrote new intern-to-be Natalie Neal in a blog post. “We as the applicants had the opportunity to see the competition, to interact with one another and the Lucky 13 coordinators, and to link to things like video, pictures, documents, websites – really anything we wanted.”
The Process via the Numbers
The following numbers / facts provide some quantifiable insights about Campbell Mithun’s Lucky 13 Twitter application process:
The (Barely There) Rules
Guidelines for the tweeted applications were intentionally left very broad to encourage job-seekers to take charge of their tweet strategy: After registering via a simple online form, applicants simply needed to send the 13 tweets during the specified dates and include in each tweet two hashtags:
1) The primary #L13 hashtag
2) A secondary hashtag identifying the applicant’s chosen internship discipline:
#CMam for account management, #CMcpm for media, #Cmcr8 for creative and #CMt3ch for technologist
Inside-Out Hiring Process with New Rules of Engagement
Using Twitter for hiring employees also gave Campbell Mithun an increased opportunity not only for interacting with applicants but for seeing the candidates’ public engagement with each other and the industry.
“We had to staff this selection process completely differently,” said Fischer. “We created an internal system for monitoring and capturing the thousands of tweets, and, because Twitter is about engagement and interaction, also aimed for real interaction with the applicants. A team of 37 employees assisted human resources with tracking and responding to specific applicants.”
The goal of “applicant engagement” proved to be the most rewarding and most challenging part of the process. Members of the agency’s Twitter Response Teams tweeted personal @replies to specific candidates via the agency’s @The_Lucky_13 handle. They welcomed and enjoyed the personal-communication tweets (not counted among the 13 “official tweets”), which in one case between an agency copywriter and a copywriter applicant resulted in a social-media prank with the following line added to Campbell Mithun’s corporate Wikipedia profile: “Employees use their distinctive third elbow to attract mates as well as ward off predators.”
Applicants also tweeted responses to and followed each other. “I paid close attention to the people I thought were doing well, and learned from them,” said Neal. “Being exposed to other applicants made me up my game. . . I met some incredible people and exchanged messages with them.”
After the application window closed, human resources met with the Twitter Response Team, had a lively discussion about the many strong applicants and made the very difficult selection of the 32 finalists who were interviewed in person or via Skype.
About The Lucky 13 Internship
The six new 2011 Lucky 13 Interns will report for their 10-week paid internship on June 6, 2011. They’ll do real work for real clients, alongside real professionals, earning a real chance to start their careers as full-time members of the advertising community. This will be the sixth year Campbell Mithun has run its Lucky 13 Internship program.
The internship’s name celebrates the agency’s history and culture. Though conventional wisdom finds 13 an unlucky number for some, Ray Mithun, co-founder of Campbell Mithun, once said, “If 13 is unlucky for some people, it must be lucky for someone else.” The Lucky 13 Internship program seeks to find those individuals who can be someone else -- those who have the courage to go against the grain and to believe in original ideas and creative solutions.
Some questioned if Twitter was the best platform for choosing the 2011 Lucky 13 Interns. As someone who went through the process and captured the attention of Campbell Mithun, I can assure you this year’s application process was not only difficult, but exhilarating.
My process was different from other applicants, since I had the added challenge of applying from Tanzania, East Africa. Power was scarce, Internet connection was unstable (or nonexistent if there was no power), and trying to upload anything took hours (when the Internet connection was stable and there was power). Even loading the Twitter page took effort.
I wasn’t an active tweeter before Campbell Mithun announced it would use Twitter as its platform to choose the next Lucky 13 interns. In the weeks preceding the tweet-off period, I read as much as I could about Twitter strategy. Some of it was helpful, but what gave me the idea for my personal strategy came from Campbell Mithun’s motto, “Everything Talks.” I realized I would have to think beyond the “What are you doing?” Twitter box, and make everything talk for me. The best way to break away from the 140-character restriction was to link to something else. I chose to link to videos I created, pictures I took, articles I wrote, and websites I made to introduce myself to Campbell Mithun. I even designed a Twitter background (although I don’t know if the Lucky 13 coordinators ever saw it). Every tweet focused on a different quality or skill specific to me and related back to my original theme, “Africa to Advertising.”
When the tweet-off period started, so did the intense competition. The sheer volume of tweets was overwhelming. Over 400 people registered to apply for the internship, but many never completed all thirteen tweets after seeing the fierce competition. I paid close attention to the people who I thought were doing well, and learned from them. Usually during an internship application process, there are few opportunities to interact with other applicants (unless you happen to pass someone in the hallway who interviewed before you). During the Lucky 13 tweet-off period, new posts appeared 24-7, and you could see everything. I revised my tweets several times if someone posted something similar to what I was planning to do. Being exposed to other applicants going for the same position made me up my game. It wasn’t all intense competition though; I met some incredible people through the process and exchanged messages with them. Not everyone was in competition for one position, so you never knew who could be your fellow Lucky 13er.
Even though I had the added challenge of racing against battery-life to shoot video and edit an article on my computer, or having to re-upload pictures multiple times because the power kept cutting off, I thoroughly enjoyed the process. I was inspired and surprised by other applicants. One person designed an animated website focusing on the number 13, and added to it each day. Someone with whom I did karate when we were in elementary school applied for the same position as I did. Another person posted a beautifully edited dance video, which I used in my dance class in Tanzania to inspire the students. Someone else encouraged me and cheered me on despite the fact he was also applying for the same position.
-- Natalie Neal, 2011 Lucky 13 Intern, @NatalieNeal (#thankful)
Series of 15-second spots explore (literally) the transformative nature of shoes
MINNEAPOLIS – Famous Footwear’s “A New You” spring fashion /fitness television advertising by Campbell Mithun just broke nationwide under the ongoing Make Today Famous umbrella with spots dramatizing how new shoes can inspire the feeling of a “new you” – as a red carpet celebrity, a secret agent, a BASE jumper or a runner pacing with impalas.
“This new series dares you to envision who you want to be and how shoes can help you get there. We’ve presented a 15-second stream-of-consciousness reality where shoes lead the way for someone to imagine a new version of themselves,” said Famous Footwear senior vice president of marketing Will Smith.
The campaign represents the sixth execution under the retailer’s “Make Today Famous” umbrella and leverages the seasonal benefit of spring as a time of renewal. Four versions currently are running: a fashion spot called “Red Carpet” and three fitness spots entitled “Secret Agent,” “Base Jumping” and “Impalas.”
Each ad opens with a voiceover saying “A new you begins with new shoes from Famous Footwear” and then moves quickly to the vision imagined by the shoe consumer. The fitness spots run nationwide until the end of March; “Red Carpet” airs through April 24. Promotional versions direct consumers to a special offer available in stores or online at famousfootwear.com/TV. Three additional summer fitness spots will break in May.
Credits: The Snorri Brothers of Interrogate directed the spots; editor is Brian Slater of Fischer Edit; music and sound design, Todd Syring, Syring Music LLC. Agency credits: Andy Anema, art director; Bill Johnson, copywriter; and David Howell, executive producer. Spark is the media agency.
Each of the spots was shot on Super 16 and with an HD 2K digital camera.
Spring Fashion: “Red Carpet”
“Red Carpet” presents a woman who imagines that she arrives via parachute to the celebrity red carpet after she picks up a strappy Madden Girl Korral sandal. All eyes are on her, and her fabulous shoes, as she descends into the crowd. Creating the spot involved hoisting the actor 20-feet up via a rig and then lowering her slowly – in spite of high winds on the day of the shoot.
“Wind gusts upwards of 60 miles per hour enhanced the elegance and beauty of her dress,” said Campbell Mithun art director Andy Anema. “But the wind also required us to re-configure our lighting and to ditch plans to use an actual parachute which would have shredded; we decided just to let the viewer’s mind fill that detail in.”
The series of fitness spots presents new identities and adventures imagined by consumers picking up a specific fitness shoe. “Secret Agent” presents a woman who receives a Top Secret file and escapes on a motorcycle down a flight of stairs from three black-suited men in pursuit. The shoe of inspiration? Women’s Asics Gel Frantic. Yes, a stuntwoman rode the motorcycle.
“Base Jumping” depicts a man who imagines BASE jumping off a cliff while he looks at a K-Swiss Tubes shoe. Stunt men performed the action, and the agency employed a variety of techniques to create the free-falling effects, including the use of a six-story crane as well as dangling the actor in front of a green screen (with his green-soled shoes). As for the jump off the cliff? “The stunt crew rigged a mattress – about queen size – over the edge, just out of camera view,” said Anema. “We let them take care of that.”
In “Impalas” a woman sees herself running across the African savannah alongside a herd of impalas – all inspired by a women’s Nike Dual Fusion shoe. The agency used stock impala footage and shot the actor both on location and in front of a green screen. “The challenge here was inserting the runner into the stock footage realistically,” said Anema. The spot ends with the woman making a literal impala-sized leap in those shoes.
Make Today Famous
Famous Footwear’s Make Today Famous campaign was created by Campbell Mithun in 2009. The campaign shows how people can make even everyday activities “famous” in their own unique ways, influenced by the shoes on their feet. The 2011 spring series represents the sixth seasonal effort under the Make Today Famous campaign umbrella and follows the recent 2010 “Frozen Moments” holiday spot featuring a 30-second slow-motion run through the snow.
About Famous Footwear
Famous Footwear is a leading family branded footwear destination, with 1,100 stores nationwide and e-commerce site FamousFootwear.com. The chain offers consumers more than 80 nationally recognized brands, including Nike, Skechers, Naturalizer, Puma, Steve Madden, Converse, New Balance, DC, Rocket Dog and Carlos by Carlos Santana, and features a broad assortment of toning footwear from brands like Skechers and Reebok. A proud national partner of the March of Dimes, the retailer sponsors March for Babies walk events in more than 1,000 communities nationwide. Famous Footwear is operated by the retail subsidiary of Brown Shoe Company, Inc. (NYSE:BWS), which has $2.5 billion in sales as a retailer and wholesaler of footwear. For more information, visit http://www.famousfootwear.com and http://www.brownshoe.com.
Recently Campbell Mithun announced that we would be hiring our “Lucky 13 Interns” with a new approach – Twitter. On February 13th, candidates were able to begin tweeting with the hashtag #L13 as well as the hashtag of their desired department (i.e.: media applicants applying to Campbell Mithun’s Compass Point Media unit used #CMCPM). Applicants had 13 days as well as 13 tweets to make themselves stand out from the crowd. After this period, candidates were chosen to interview in person for each department (happening now). With hundreds of applicants, this process was definitely competitive.
When it was announced that Twitter was the main tool of the application process, there was some doubt as to whether candidates would put forth the same effort required of the old application. Former intern applicants spent hours writing papers and creating portfolios. “And all these applicants have to do is write 13 lousy tweets???” Well, as it turns out, 13 tweets may have been a great solution to let the best and brightest candidates shine through.
Although I wasn’t part of the team assessing candidates on Twitter, I still kept a close eye on the process and watched some pretty interesting things unfold. I am not going to name any names, but let’s just say there were some extraordinary applicants!
People who were Extraordinary…
Researched Twitter. Candidates were not judged on the number of followers they had or the number of tweets they previously wrote. They were, however, judged on their ability to effectively use Twitter as a communication tool. Whether someone was brand new to Twitter, or had an account for several years, it was important they knew how to use it. If an applicant had never used Twitter, it was clear who had done their homework and who hadn’t.
Remembered one of the beautiful features of Twitter: Linking. Good candidates linked their tweets to blogs (really good candidates linked to blogs they themselves wrote) with relevant content, twitpics, twitdocs, videos or other media that helped showcase the candidate’s capabilities, work history, knowledge of advertising, or creativity.
Were conversational. While the application only counted 13 tweets, applicants could converse with Campbell Mithun employees, other candidates or people in the industry. (Only tweets that included both #L13 and departmental hashtags were considered part of the application.) The cool thing about Twitter is that users have the ability to talk and “meet” people they don’t know IRL (in real life): Specifically, on February 16th, there was a “Talkinar” hosted by Rachael Marret, Heath Rudduck and Sean O’Brien (Campbell Mithun’s president, chief creative officer and director of technology and innovation, repectively). People definitely noticed #L13 applicants chiming into the conversation and asking questions. *Note to self: if your dream-company is hosting an event, attend!
On some levels this process was a gamble: What if people didn’t “get it?” What if it was too hard to distinguish the good candidates from the bad? What if it was too difficult to track all of the applicants? But in spite of those challenges, Campbell Mithun came up with a truly innovative approach to a traditional process (something we do quite often ) and the process worked.
Good luck with the interview phase “Lucky 13ers”!
-- Hannah Feder, digital media analyst, a.k.a. “Hanalyst”
(Editor’s note: this post originally appeared on Hannah’s personal blog: http://bit.ly/h6V3CA. Campbell Mithun will announce its summer 2011 Lucky 13 interns by the end of March.)
Seems a lot of agencies out there are trying to reinvent themselves in one way or another. Becoming more “iterative.” Moving from a “push” to “pull” mentality. Shifting from an “assembly line” culture to a more interactive “maintenance” culture. With that in mind, I’d like to propose a revolutionary approach that could lead to a more meaningful brand conversation: I call it the “Free Beer” model.
If you’ve ever played in a band, you know what I’m talking about. You get out every weekend just for the passion of creating together and performing for an audience. Beer and maybe a little more is usually the currency. Years ago, a few friends brought me in on the “free beer” model in some pretty seedy clubs around Chicago as we attempted to learn improvisational comedy. None of us ever got very good. But since most of our audiences were participating in the “paid beer” model, we all had a good time. There was an infectious energy as we built on ideas/scenes that worked with the audience and threw out ones that didn’t. We adjusted onstage with audience input leading the way.
There’s an interesting article our own Henry Breimhurst shared a little while back that touched on the same idea, entitled “The Future of Advertising.” In it, Fast Company writer Danielle Sacks mentions: “Creative teams … now need to behave more like improv actors -- ‘story building’ instead of storytelling -- so they can respond in real time to an unpredictable audience.” When you think of it, it’s the complete opposite of The Royal Shakespearean theater approach, or the traditional Madison Avenue model. No big production. No time to build big sets and get into makeup. Just slap a little water on our face and jump on stage. In Chicago, each night was more like a conversation. Kinda what we’re trying to do today.
I know. There are a few little hiccups to be ironed out. Like money, for instance. But still, you have to agree the “Free Beer” model holds promise. Here, in a nutshell are the 4 basic principles, at least with improv and maybe advertising:
1. LISTEN: Improv isn’t stand-up. You’re not out there alone, so the direction the scene goes can come from anywhere. You have to listen to the new turns others introduce and build on them. And if they get a response from the audience, you REALLY build on them. There are some great opportunities that can pop up anytime on stage and from the audience. But if you don’t first open your ears, you’ll miss them.
2. PLAY THE REALITY: The scenes that are the most memorable are always built on a human truth. It’s how the audience forms a connection. It may seem counter intuitive, but it’s also always funnier to play the truth than to try to be funny. Truth after all is stranger than fiction.
3. INVOLVE THE AUDIENCE: In improv, there are all kinds of ways or “games” to put the audience in control. Their input can begin new scenes or they can guide entire scenes as they’re happening. There are at least a couple of big reasons why this is key: The audience always enjoys themselves more when they’re a part of something. They also feel a greater connection to what’s happening. And for those on stage, the process provides real audience insights that can be built on for the rest of the night.
4. HAVE FUN: Even on the worst nights, you have to remember to have fun on stage. Fun is infectious. It gets your mind going. It gets you into the world of “Why not?” and “What if?” and propels new and better ideas. Besides, if you’re not having fun, those watching you never will.
Maybe the Free Beer model could be a start of a lot of things to come. Or maybe not. If nothing else, maybe it’s a basic reminder of what’s most important in improv, advertising and the occasional drinking game.
-- Bryan DeYoung, writer, beer pong champion/helper