Monday, March 19, 2007

An offer you can't refuse

Update: This post is in no way meant to imply that Red5 contacted me with the recruitment campaign described below. I read about this, thought it was amazing, and am blogging about it -- nothing more.

Update 2: Kim Pallister read this blog. Seth Godin reads Kim's blog. Seth's blog gets a lot of traffic (and rightfully so -- man does he ever have a lot to say!) and he linked to this post of mine yesterday morning. I've recieved more visits in the last 24 hours then my accumulative traffic log for the life of the blog. Hopefully some of the new visitors will find the musings of a videogame producer interesting.

Update 3: I'm ashamed I neglected to link to this in my initial posting, but you can read all about Red5's campaign direct from the horse's mouth here. Check it out, and remember to support them when they release their WoW Killer.

So imagine you are sitting at your desk one day and a FedEx parcel arrives for you. Depending on what you do, just this fact might already have you excited, but regardless of your position, if you aren't expecting any deliveries the scene from The Matrix when Neo recieves the cell phone from Morpheus has to spring to mind. "What life-altering adventure awaits me when I open this up?".

So you open the box and find inside a series of 'Russian Doll' type nested boxes, each more beautiful then the last. Written on each box a section of what appears to be a riddle.

Of course, as you open each subsequent box the attention to detail in this package is sure to start to attract attention. Some of your coworkers would certainly be drawn to the affair and hover around to know more.

So finally you reach the fifth and last box, open it up, and find an iPod shuffle. But not just any iPod - this one is custom engraved with your name! There is also a small note informing you that a message is waiting for you on the iPod. Red Pill or Blue Pill?

So, turning the iPod on reveals a single track -- a personalized message that starts out: "(insert your name here), this is Mark Kern, President of Red 5 Studios and former team lead for World of Warcraft..".

Mark Kern is talking to you personally telling you why he thinks you would be the perfect fit for his new company, Red 5, and asking you to get in touch to discuss a potential job offer. And he is doing so in a way that has made you feel like the most valuable developer on the planet, worthy of significant investment in terms of time and energy to do nothing more then get your attention. Finally he has done it in such a way that makes no attempt at hiding his interest to your colleagues and bosses at your current place of employment.

So, what would you do? Would you contact him back to discuss further, even if you were extremely happy at your current job?

If you answered yes, you aren't alone. A recruitment campaign like this is undeniably flattering and powerful and is likely to have a near 100% response rate (at least in as far as getting in touch, if not necessarily accepting the position). The people at Red 5 who developed this campaign took everything they knew about developers in the game industry (likely to get and appreciate matrix reference. Check. Likely to be impressed by WoW credentials. Check. Likely to be intrigued by the enigma of the whole package and try to unravel the meaning of the riddle thus getting more absorbed in the total package. Check) and wrapped it all into a package that would be impossible to ignore. I am floored by the ingenuity and creativity of it all.

Read here for an account of one recipient who, interestingly, seems not to have taken the bait.

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39 Comments:

Blogger The Zombie said...

Love the blog, Ben. Keep up the great work. When do we get more info on the unannounced title you're working on? You know, info like genre and target date and stuff. Sorry, it's just that I'm pretty excited about it. Thanks, Ben!

7:20 PM  
Blogger Frederick Taillon said...

Nice blog Ben! I too can't wait to know more about your upcoming title.

As for Red 5, what can I say, they know where to find the best of the best: on blogs. For a few thousands of dollars, they made a bunch of guys feel like the most important persons in the world, and those same persons are now spreading the word through their blogs.

Red 5 care about you, Red 5 will care about you once you work for them. I bet they won't sit you in an overcrowded war room on a cheap chair with an old refurbished screen.

Someone there must now have a pile of high quality résumé to read through. That's worth much more than the hundred iPods they sent.

11:55 AM  
Blogger kim said...

Wow. What an out-of-the-box, awesome recruitment tactic.

Kudos to them. They deserve to snatch some quality people away from their current employers.

I say you should hear them out at the least!

1:33 AM  
Blogger alimokrane said...

What a surprising and creative approach to rucruiting and just because of this, I think you should go and hear them out. Yo might like what you'll find there although speaking as a gamer you're huge loss to Ubisoft if you do indeed leave. Just dont abandon your current next gen project lol cauz I think I know what it is and I can not wait!
Ah time to go play sand of time again ;)

5:01 AM  
Blogger Ben Mattes said...

whoops -- I'm not sure why, but you all seem to be under the impression that Red5 approached me. They didn't. I just read about the campaign and was really impressed so thought I'd talk about it.

Sorry if I made myself seem more important/attractive then I actually am. :)

I'll update the post on the main page to try and prevent further confusion.

8:49 AM  
Blogger Brent said...

That's brilliant.

Seems expensive, though. A 512 MB iPod Shuffle currently sells for a little over $100 on Amazon. Add the cost of the nesting boxes and FedEx, and it might cost $200. For every person you want to recruit.

I wonder how this could be done less expensively. Maybe put a Flash/SD card with the audio file in there instead of an iPod. Heck, that way you could make it a video.

9:26 AM  
Blogger Micheal said...

If you have a list of people that you definitely want to be part of your team, then $200 is not expensive at all. I'm sure headhunting firms charge a whole lot more.

9:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We did a similar campaign for lead generation (not hiring) in our company and the results were pathetic.

Results depend on the audience that is being targetted.

I think most of the people who we targetted took the personalized MP3 players, erased our company's logo, stuck their current company's logo and are happily listening to music they uploaded to these devices.

Ouch!

10:26 AM  
Anonymous Erno Hannink said...

$100 + $200 a lot??
Do not forget about the time to come up with the idea and designing and printing the boxes and engraving the name. So there are some more cost...

On the other hand, think 30% of a year salary for a headhunter.

Image how many potential employees you can send a package like this. With the expected success rate. It's a winner.

@Anonymous, printing your prospects name would have been more effective even if it feels strange. Make it about the potential customer not about you and your proposal.

11:12 AM  
Blogger Bulbboy said...

You forgot about the final thing that may sway them: Free iPod shuffle. Check.

Everyone likes free goodies.

:)

3:05 PM  
Blogger Nefastis said...

I worked at a high-profile sports marketing firm in the 90s when our marketing director received a similar, mysterious package. Within 20 minutes the building was cleared and the FBI had a helicopter and a bomb squad in the parking lot next door.

This was the era of the Unabomber, not long after advertising executive Thomas J. Mosser was killed by a letter bomb and everybody was a little bit on edge.

Funny how things change.

11:51 AM  
Blogger Dennis Gorelik said...

That way of recruiting is amusing, but it's too expensive.
Why not simply try to hire developer who is already looking for the job.
Job Post at www.postjobfree.com would cost nothing to you.

3:02 PM  
Blogger Frederick Taillon said...

Ben, now that I read my post, I realize it was confusing too and I'm affraid it might have caused a chain reaction leading people to believe you were one of those targeted by this campaign.

I used 'you' as an example fictive person rather than YOU as Ben Mattes.

Sorry for the confusion. I hope people didn't panic and cry at Ubisoft :)

5:59 PM  
Blogger kim said...

Seth doesn't read my blog (I think). I mailed him teh link to yours.

you should read his blog though! The man knows his stuff.

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