Three Commercials That’ll Make You Think Twice About Your Career

I’ve always loved commercials for job search websites. They’re almost always so effective because they tap into an insight we can all share: finding your perfect career. Whether you’re five and dreaming about it, or fifty and wishing you had looked harder, the ads (if done right) can hit home with everyone.

And the best ones are the ones that actually make you stop and think, even long after the commercial is over.  The ones that make you take a second look at the career path you’re in and where you should be going.  The ones that are creative and original enough to make you notice the first time and want to watch it a second time.

Here are three of my favorites and not only are they all great creative works, but they’re all truly effective ads.  Each one hammers home an insight that not only gets you thinking, but feeling. “When I Grow Up”

director: Bryan Buckley, agency: Mullen

When you watched this, you first laughed at how ridiculous it was to hear these kids saying things like “I wanna have a brown nose.”  But a few moments later, you start thinking and maybe even a little part of you gets nostalgic.  At least that’s what I did.

It’s in all in that simple phrase “When I grow up…” Who hears that and doesn’t think back to their childhood, when all your hopes and dreams lay ahead of you and you really believed you could be anything you wanted to be?  I mean, in the fourth grade, I actually thought I could be a fireman who made video games when he wasn’t heroically battling flames.

It’s such a powerful phrase, and when you hear it again coupled with the harsh realities of what “growing up” actually entails, it really brings that hopeful and idealistic 7 year old out again.  And for a brief moment, you think about your career through those eyes again: “Is this what I really want to be doing?  Am I heading down a path that my young self would’ve been proud of?  Who says I can’t be a fireman and a video game developer anyways?”

And I think for more than a few of us, their 7 year old selves made them fire up to see if any of their dreams were still available. “Self Help Yourself”

director: Mike Mills, agency: Wieden+Kennedy

This spot makes me laugh every single time.  The whole tone of the ad is just pitch perfect.  The depressing and retro vibe, the guy’s dry delivery in multiple get-ups and personalities, and even his look.  It’s just comic gold.  Great casting.

Props to the wardrobe and set design as well.  The whole style of the ad is unique and manages to really “pop” in a monotone way…I didn’t even know that was possible.  I want you to watch the spot one more time and pay close attention to colors.  The use of solid, pastel colors throughout the whole piece is amazing and gives it such a distinctive feel.

And last but not least, the messaging of the commercial is right on.  Everyone who wants out of their job can relate to this guy’s predicament – picturing yourself in infinitely more rewarding careers, telling yourself you should “just do what makes you happy.”   This ad is reaching out to all those that hear that inner voice, that gut instinct that’s unhappy and complaining inside.  And for those guys, is saying, “maybe you should listen to yourself.” “Stork”

director: Daniel Kleinman, agency: BBDO (New York)

“Stork” is one of my favorite ads of the past year, hands down.  Beautiful, even moving.   I never thought I’d say that about a ad, but they really pulled it off with this one.  This Cannes Lions 2008 winner tells quite a story in sixty seconds with no dialogue, perfect choice in music, and a CGI stork who expresses subtle emotions

Watching it, you can’t help but think about the journey your own life took to get you to where you are. The hardships, the struggles, the blood, sweat, and tears others had to put forth (hint: your parents).  All that to get you here.

The commercial then asks you, was it worth it?  Are you reaching your full potential, or just wasting it?  And as you take a second to ponder, so does the guy in the office, and the commercial leaves you on the perfect last note.