Ogilvy & Mather Pirate Recruitment – A Nanotargeting Approach


The Ogilvy Brussels creative team gave a lot of thought to Pirate Recruitment. The concept of using filesharing sites for a recruitment action hadn’t been tried before. Filesharing websites are the social networks of the internet underworld, a massive amount of data is shared on a daily basis, and hopping on that huge stream of information seemed like an idea that could work.

The price of a full Photoshop application suite is very high and most unemployed designers are tempted to get a copy in a less legal way. It made sense, as we’d be fishing for a webdesigner in the place where most designers get their first copy of Photoshop.

Filesharing networks already contain a lot of illegitimate copies of Photoshop and cracks of all sorts. It was not easy to get noticed between all that noise. Between most of the pirates, we had the advantage of actually sending something out that wasn’t illegal, so we didn’t have to worry about getting too much exposure, like they did. We actually wanted to get noticed, and were free to make use of public download sites any way we wanted.

It was a challenge to make this thing believable. The file people were downloading had to look like it contained the real thing downloaders where after. The package had a README.txt file, with instructions on how to “crack” the installer, and a little bit of ASCII art to make it look legit.

In doing this great experiment, we got Steve, our brand new webdesigner, and showed how sharing technology can be used for something legal.

In discussing social and digital recruiting trends with Social@Ogilvy’s senior recruiter, Nando Rodriguez, he felt the one thing that initially stood out in his mind with Pirate Recruiting was the use of nanotargeting. Nanotargeting is where you just don’t target a group, like someone looking for a job, or a sub-group, like a developer looking for a job. They target a specific audience within the developer community —developers open to a new job who pirate software (which means someone who is clever, non- traditional, and up-to-speed on the tech world.)

That being said, here’s a video about our Pirate Recruitment: