To America's current 12,200,000 unemployed, we can now add about six chimpanzees.
Online employment agents CareerBuilders just laid off the chimps that have starred in its Super Bowl commercials since 2005, Advertising Age reported January 22. And not because they were monkeying around on the job, either.
According to VP-corporate communications Jennifer Grasz, the company's "sitting out" this year's Super Bowl and pursuing "other marketing opportunities this year, not only promoting the CareerBuilder brand, but also specific products and differentiators."
This may make sense, because while viewers found their commercials real knee-slappers, the message – if you're tired of working with a bunch of monkeys, call us – was just a wee-e-e-e bit light on specifics, products and brand differentiation.
Late to the game
CareerBuilder was a latecomer to Super Bowl advertising, getting into the game just when other big players in the category – Monster.com and Hotjobs – were getting out.
But if audience reaction is any measure, they succeeded where others didn't – to the extent that, two Super Bowls later, in 2007, when they ran a spot with humans instead of monkeys, consumers demanded a Return to the Workplace of the Apes.
Killed by animal activists
The decision to kill the chimp campaign may have been made under duress.
Even though the chimps in the commercials were treated well and not harmed in any way,
[b]y 2011, CareerBuilder was running afoul of activist groups such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the Center for Great Apes...And while eighteen large ad agencies said they would no longer produce ads with live chimps, who critics suggested were harmed by their participation in the production of the commercials, the company soldiered on with advertising created in-house.
A bone to pick?
CareerBuilder may also have had a bone to pick with CBS, who's carrying this year's game.
Three years ago, the last time CBS was the broadcaster, they scheduled a CareerBuilders commercial showing office workers in their underwear and a Levi's commercial showing men in their underwear back to back.
When both advertisers complained that viewers wouldn't know which brand's commercials they were seeing, CBS graciously offered make-goods – to Levi's only.
What's a monkey to do?
Grasz told Ad Age that returning to the game was "definitely a consideration."
But until such time as that consideration becomes a reality – a reality, moreover, that involves monkeys – the chimps are out of work.
Maybe Monster.com can find them jobs.
If not, at least their 99 weeks of unemployment insurance could help see them through to Super Bowl XLIX in 2015.
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