CareerBuilder’s plans for grabbing and keeping Sunday’s Superbowl viewers

Like millions of other Americans, I try to catch the Superbowl every year. But I’m a marketer, so my priorities are warped. With DVR remote in hand, I often time-delay the event by 45 minutes at the outset. This is so I can fast-forward through the often painfully one-sided game (and yes, Ron, your Pats will cream the Giants), and focus on the commercials. Laptop at the ready, I hop from one web address advertised to another, seeing the latest trends in corporate integrated marketing. Less strenuous than birding or trainspotting but just as geeky, I chalk the task up to research. But with this research, drinking pale ale is mandatory.

This year CareerBuilder is whetting my thirst for — ahem — knowledge with teaser emails. As usual, they are using the spendy ad space to kick off their annual ad campaign. Something tells me there will be a cool viral microsite to go along with it, to keep the $3 million (which is the reported cost of one of this year’s 30-second Superbowl ad slots) working throughout the year. Here’s their email to me:

CareerBuilder Email From Tuesday

Notice that I turned off the graphics to help you focus on the content. Kudos to CareerBuilder for constructing an email that “looks good naked.”

I’ll see you online, CareerBuilder!

“They all laughed when I said I’d use this headline …”

“– but then it began to work!” For those of you who have made a study of ad writing, you’ll recognize the name John Caples. His work continues to be extensively studied and copied. Not too shabby for someone whose seminal book, Tested Advertising Methods, was written almost 80 years ago!

Workers or Wackers? CareerBuilder AdHow often is his work mimicked?

Well, how often have you seen an offer for a guide that offers “12 secrets to X,” or “9 tested ways to Y?” Perhaps a million times?

Each writer of those headlines was — knowingly or not — following in Caples’ footsteps. I was reminded of how common these offer headlines are, especially online, where free whitepapers abound, when I saw this recent ad for CareerBuilder (the image to the right). Thank you, by the way, to for tipping me off on this one. You can see their Flash animated version here.

And that inspired me to do a Google search for all mentions of the phrase “They all laughed when I.” These happen to be the first five words of Caples’ famous headline for a music correspondence school: “They all laughed when I sat down at the piano — but then I began to play!”

It’s a killer lead that broke all the school’s sales records, paired as it was with gutsy, testimonial-style direct response copy (example: “Someone asked about the maestro’s execution. Someone else called out ‘I’m all for it.'”).

So how many online ad writers are using this technique? The Google results suggested as many as 731 matches. Here are the top five, to give you an idea how this technique is being applied:

  • They All Laughed When I Said I Could Turn Their Relationship Around In Just 10 Minute.
  • They All Laughed When I Spoke of Greedy Doctors
  • They all laughed when I said I was going to tell a joke. Well, they’re not laughing now.
  • They All Laughed When I Sat Down at the Computer: And Other True Tales of One Man’s Struggle With Personal Computing.
  • They All Laughed When I Said I Was Going To Become A Millionaire… But Then I Did It In Only 4 Years!

And then there is this one, which comes the closest to Caples’ original (it even includes quotes, which Caples said was de rigour):

“They All Laughed When I Told Them I Don’t Spend A Penny To Promote My Website — But When I Showed Them My Web Stats!”

In what I suspect will come to be known as the Golden Age of Internet Marketing, it’s fun to see just how much hasn’t changed since advertising was in its infancy.