ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.
We heard earlier in the program about BP paying to make sure that its website pops up when you search for news about the ongoing oil spill. Well, now the story of one young man who did something similar to a select few people he thought might hire him for his dream job.
NPR's Wendy Kaufman reports.
WENDY KAUFMAN: Alec Brownstein is an advertising copywriter, and he isn't shy. He had a good job but wanted a more creative one. So the 29-year-old identified a handful of ad agencies and creative directors he wanted to work for. Then he wrote a very short ad that would appear as a sponsored link anytime someone Googled those names.
Brownstein periodically searched his own name on Google, kind of a vanity thing, and he was hoping the ad agency guys would do the same.
Mr. ALEC BROWNSTEIN (Senior Copywriter, Young & Rubicam, New York): You can set up an ad-words campaign in a matter of minutes. And so I think I thought of the idea and then I thought: What the heck? Let's just try it. I didn't really have anything to lose.
KAUFMAN: The ad, which was linked to his website, cost a total of $6. It addressed each individual by name and said: Hey, Googling yourself is a lot of fun. Hiring me is fun, too.
Scott Vitrone and Ian Reichenthal are the creative directors at advertising giant Young and Rubicam in New York. They were two people Brownstein was trying to reach.
Mr. SCOTT VITRONE (Executive Creative Director, Young & Rubicam, New York): Ian and I have both Googled ourselves in the past. Yes, let's just get that out of the way - or straight up front.
KAUFMAN: The ploy worked. It took several weeks, but Reichenthal and Vitrone eventually saw the ad.
Mr. IAN REICHENTHAL (Executive Creative Director, Young & Rubicam, New York): I thought it was funny right off the bat. Then, maybe later, I thought: Well, that is kind of like, a little stalkery.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. REICHENTHAL: But I thought it was really funny and very simple. It's just such a simple idea. We were like: Why hasn't anyone else thought of that?
Mr. VITRONE: This is Scott. It was oddly personal, too. I mean, it felt like it was so short and sweet, it was - he was kind of - he was just talking to us.
KAUFMAN: The ad men estimate that hundreds of people contact them every month, trying to get jobs. A lot of them, says Reichenthal, resort to gimmicks in their effort to get noticed.
Mr. REICHENTHAL: We got a box with what looked like a severed hand. It was a rubber version of a severed hand. And it's like: If you need a hand with any of your upcoming projects, give me a call at blah-blah. And then there was an oven mitt that said, like: Look out. My portfolio is coming in next week, and it is hot.
(Soundbite of laughter)
KAUFMAN: Clever? Reichenthal and Vitrone didn't think so - not cutting edge or edgy or even entertaining. In fact, Brownstein is the only person they've hired whose self-promotion campaign worked.
Mr. VITRONE: I look at the benefit of the fact that we work in advertising, you know, he was demonstrating the talent that we need him to, you know, bring to work every day.
KAUFMAN: Vitrone makes the distinction between talent and gimmick. And Reichenthal adds that talent is what they were looking for.
Mr. REICHENTHAL: It wasn't only the stunt. When we clicked through and saw Alex's website, which had all of his work in it, we really liked the work in it, too. So it wasn't just the Google ad that got him hired. That's what got us to look at his portfolio. But the combination of the two things is what got him hired, ultimately.
KAUFMAN: Brownstein is now a senior copywriter at Young & Rubicam. In addition to the job, his campaign got him a number of advertising industry awards for -you guessed it - self-promotion.
Wendy Kaufman, NPR News.
SIEGEL: And you can watch a video about how Alec Brownstein spent $6 and landed his dream job on our website, npr.org.
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