This campaign had a disruptive, bold concept right at the very heart. The ambitious strategy delivered a new economic model with a strong, coherent narrative throughout the delivery of campaign worldwide. The impressive results showed meaningful global impact, including substantial commercial benefit as a direct result of this campaign, as well as reaching international policy makers. They managed to completely redefine perceptions of their brand proposition from an executive search firm to a consulting firm with powerful business insights.

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Winner entry:

Brief and objectives:

Korn Ferry, the global executive search firm, challenged Man Bites Dog to create a global C-Suite thought leadership campaign to substantiate its new brand positioning as an organisational consultancy offering more than executive search.

Competition for C-Suite attention has never been so intense. The threat of disruptive innovation has promoted technology to the top of the Boardroom agenda, and relegated talent to the bottom. With worldwide headlines proclaiming that AI will lead to significant job losses, Man Bites Dog’s research showed that business leaders now believe that technology is more valuable than people.

Korn Ferry needed a PR campaign that would enable it to put talent back onto the Boardroom agenda as a strategic business issue and deliver against three key objectives:

  • Repositioning: Change perceptions of Korn Ferry from executive search to broad organisational consulting.
  • Reputation: Position Korn Ferry as a global thought leader on talent by showcasing expert insights, data and IP.
  • Relationships: Create a powerful hook for Korn Ferry consultants to have profitable conversations with business leaders and political influencers.

The idea, research and planning:

Man Bites Dog’s strategy was to create a campaign that would make global business leaders take notice, by translating the “soft” issue of people into “hard” business and economic impact – demonstrating that talent should be at the heart of business strategy.

Using our proprietary 4D Strategic Ideas Framework, Man Bites Dog synthesised intelligence about the market, the macro environment, prevailing thinking and Korn Ferry’s proposition to identify a signature perspective that would challenge the C-Suite’s talent blindspot by highlighting the value of people to organisations.

Man Bites Dog identified an opportunity to challenge the perception that technology and machine learning will make talent less important, by setting out to prove that the opposite is true: AI will generate more skilled jobs.

Man Bites Dog challenged the conventions of economics by showing that traditional labour forecasting (which assumes market equilibrium between supply and demand) is unfit for the twenty-first century. We designed ambitious, world-first research to robustly evidence the talent crunch – the mismatch between skilled talent supply and demand – in 20 major developed and developing economies at three future milestones: 2020, 2025 and 2030.

“The idea of highlighting how AI would generate a future skilled talent shortage – when the rest of the world was talking about job losses – was so original and against the grain that we had to convince our own people that our vision was right. We used pilot data to demonstrate that turning conventional thinking upside down was not only possible but necessary to reveal the true future of work.”

Mwamba Kasanda, Senior Director, Global Marketing Programs, Korn Ferry.

Strategy, tactics, creativity and innovation:

Man Bites Dog designed a three-stage programme of data and content that would map to Korn Ferry’s service streams, enabling them to showcase their expert consulting abilities and generate profitable conversations at a higher C-Suite level.

Peak One: The Global Talent Crunch. Man Bites Dog created a powerful new economic model for labour, based on demand-side macro forecasts to map the gap between talent supply and demand, revealing that companies can expect a global talent deficit of more than 85.2 million skilled workers by 2030, threatening $8.5 trillion lost annual GDP.

Peak Two: The Salary Surge showcased Korn Ferry’s reward offer, forecasting a $2.5 trillion rise in annual payrolls. We used the data to develop an interactive salary surge calculator tool, connecting the campaign to another aspect of Korn Ferry’s offer.

Peak Three: The Talent Shift. Man Bites Dog designed global opinion research to create a gap analysis between the economic reality and business perceptions. We highlighted leaders’ complacency with just one in ten having a long-term talent plan. This created a clear call to action for Korn Ferry’s strategic workforce planning services.

Delivery:

To generate sustained impact, Man Bites Dog and Korn Ferry developed a nine-month global integrated marketing communications campaign driven by a single key message: The Talent Crunch is coming.

Man Bites Dog consulted with Korn Ferry’s global marketing team and produced a global content toolkit aligned with their needs. This included reports, videographics, infographics, blogs and an interactive salary surge calculator, all housed on a dedicated microsite. We produced a series of individual country reports, translated into local languages, with content diced by theme, region, sector and service offer to maximise client relevance. Business champions in 20 countries mobilized the entire consultancy to go out and have profitable conversations with campaign content.

The three global studies were launched in successive waves, each supported by targeted PR and social media campaigns, exclusive events, multiple webinar series and segmented email nurture streams.

Measurement and evaluation:

Reputation: The campaign set the business news agenda, generating more than 350 dedicated pieces of global top-tier media coverage – high-quality news, features and op eds – from Bloomberg, CNBC, The Evening Standard and Forbes to Die Welt, with two front-page exclusives in Le Figaro, a Singapore exclusive BBC TV interview, and TV and radio interviews with consultants in Hong Kong, Germany, UK, Russia, Saudi Arabia and UAE. Media results drove the biggest spike in web mentions in the last 12 months.

Revenue: Consultants are now localising the campaign with key offers in every market. For example, UK consultants’ Reimagining Talent Management programme (providing strong solutions to the talent crunch) has already generated millions in direct revenue, with far more expected as nurture activity is deepened and expanded across all Korn Ferry’s markets.

Budget and campaign impact:

Repositioning:  The Global Talent Crunch not only challenged the way that organisations and governments think about the talent questions posed by the future of work but firmly positioned Korn Ferry as holding the answers.

The Global Talent Crunch campaign exceeded its media impact targets by 500%, increasing daily, and is Korn Ferry’s most successful global media campaign to date.

“The Talent Crunch enabled us to explain to journalists who Korn Ferry is now – with substantial content to prove it. This campaign took the issue of talent – usually the domain of HR press – into the news and business media that influences the C-Suite. We have successfully changed the brand from a media perspective: journalists no longer define us as an executive search firm, but as a consulting firm with powerful business insights.”

Myriam Gasnier, Marketing Manager – France, Korn Ferry.