Tuesday, 19 January 2010


I’d given up applying advertising grad schemes, because, firstly, I’ve been doing it for too long, and secondly, the resulting jobs seem more organisational than creative. But then I got word of the Saatchi & Saatchi Summer Scholarship. I figured it’s such a massive company that I’d be a fool not to apply, especially considering that the Scholarship offers creative roles.

In order to apply, I was told to join the Facebook group. Then I was sent this:

“Welcome to the Saatchi & Saatchi Summer Scholarship 2010. Over the coming weeks we will be setting a series of briefs that have been specially designed to test the various skills and attributes you will need to work here. Each brief will be fun, but challenging – that’s the point. It’ll be a bit like The Apprentice meets Big Brother meets The Blair Witch Project. Actually scrub the Blair Witch bit.

As the scheme progresses some of the best work and ideas submitted will be posted for everyone in the group to see and comment on. We will also post important notices here on the group page and message you as well. So make sure you check your emails regularly.

The first brief will go live at 10am, Monday 18th January. So brush your teeth, comb your hair, put on clean undercrackers and get ready to rumble.”

There were some T’s and C’s, but that was the crux of what was to come. The HR team already seemed like a bunch of wankers, but, it's Saatchi & Saatchi, and I've done so well on previous grad scheme applications.

So I waited until today, at 10am, when I received this:

“Brief 1.
This will test your originality, creativity and ability to connect to a mass audience.
Create a new Facebook group. The objective is to get as many people as possible to join your group. The top 50% of all the groups will go through to the next round. Simples.

You must:

1. Set up your group and leave it ‘open’.
2. Then add Saatchi Recruiting as a friend.
3. (Once accepted) Invite Saatchi Recruiting to join your group.
4. Then copy and paste your group’s URL to the link below:
(There’s a picture of how to find the URL if you don’t know)
Deadline: 6pm GMT, Sunday 7th February.”

I created a group asking for people to get ‘Don’t Stop Believin’’ to number one. I invited all of my friends, embarrassing myself a bit and giving myself a touch of RSI in the process. Then, with 30 members, I sussed out the competition. The Saatchi & Saatchi HR team have, on all accounts, neglected to make their recruitment process watertight. In order to appeal to a mass audience, people have created some really snide groups. ‘London 2012 – JOBS’ has over 1500 members. ‘Summer 2010 Music Festivals! Buy Tickets Here!’ also has a couple of hundred members. Both are peddling lies.

I wouldn’t usually start hammering on about stupid Facebook groups, because I like to get on with other things. But Saatchi & Saatchi’s HR team are encouraging candidates to mislead and lie as part of their application, which is pretty novel if you think about it. Every piece of careers advice tends to actively discourage lying on an application form.

The team have already whittled down many candidates by introducing rules too late into the game so as to stop ‘cheating’ (e.g. becoming an admin of a large, established group, people creating more than one group). What would happen if I’d made a group called ‘Advertising is probably evil’? Even if it got 3million members, the team would have to question it, right?

Call it sour grapes, but I don’t feel comfortable lying to gain popularity. Otherwise my group would’ve been called ‘FREE PORN ON FACEBOOK’ or something else equally spammy.

So I must apologise on five different counts. Firstly, I apologise for creating the group asking for ‘Don’t Stop Believin’’ to get to number one – two versions occupy spots 4 and 5 already, let’s allow something new to dominate, even if it is Ke$ha.

Secondly, I apologise to Journey and even the cast of Glee for stealing your thunder and trying to tag onto your talents in order to self-promote my shitty Facebook group.

My third apology is for inviting every single one of my Facebook friends to a shitty Facebook group. Fourthly, I apologise to myself for wasting a lot of time creating and subsequently checking a shitty Facebook group.

And finally, I apologise to anyone else who remains in the competition. Because, as much as I may complain about the recruitment process being dodgy, it’s only a snippet of what’s to come. An advertising company’s application requires candidates to lie and mislead because that is what advertising has become. The application is to the career what the toy gun is to the uzi. The pressure to lie and mislead will only increase with every day someone spends working for an ad company, and I’m sorry to and for whoever doesn’t cotton onto that.


  1. What a bunch of cunts. You're best off out of it.

  2. I agree. I was really looking forward to a challenging brief where we had to be creative. Even though I've posted a response to the brief, I've lost so much interest in it after I've seen all the "£10 give aways in city centre" etc. The 2010 Jobs one has over 4000 members now, all being duped.

    The brief was apparently designed to test how we "connect to a mass audience". Well I'm sure most agencies and brands don't connect to a mass audience by lying to them.

    However, I'm posting anonymously just in case I still get through! So I'm just as bad.

  3. Its not often I read a blog post and think "This girl's nailed it"
    Nothing to do with you being a girl of course.
    Anyway, you have hit the nail on the head.

    That said, maybe M&CSaatchi knew the above would happen... lying and what not, and just wanted you to show you understood how facebook functions, what kind of groups people join, how social media really works (though strangely, not how advertising on social media really works).

    I'm gonna follow you now.

  4. You're absolutely right. The festival tickets one isn't misleading because i suppose she is just providing information and links for a bunch of festivals in Europe, it's quite clever really! The london 2012 one does seem a bit ridiculous. Unless he has some massive link in the olympics team, i don't see how he can provide them with valuable information this early on, and assist in anyway. I imagine the saatchi & saatchi team would realise this though. Good on you for writing this, I'm quite tempted to write something on the wall....

  5. You are a badger flange.
    I extend that to everyone who has commented too.

  6. I also have to agree with you - this is a seriously flawed task. I understand that grad schemes are nothing more than letting people demonstrate who can shout the loudest, while the people who aren't as vocal fall by the weyside, but this takes the biscuit.

    It's going to be pretty standard procedure that whoever completes this task successfully will be the people who have the most friends on facebook, or take a cheap shot just to win the task (by flat out lying or by piggy-backing on something like the Haiti disaster, which I'm simply not going to sink to - a group about that is now live).

    I obviously want the job, but if I don't make it through, I'm not going to be as disappointed as I would have been before. My heart's not massively in it to be honest - especially as the whole application process has turned into a popularity contest so early on.

    Glad someone has brought these blatant flaws to light and has the balls to post it on their wall. I still kinda want the job hence while I'm staying anonymous! But glad I'm not the only person who thinks this!

  7. some one has made a group about extras for hollyoaks!! I didn't realise people were blatantly lying! This is getting a little silly now

  8. Well done on posting this - I particularly liked the totally fucking vomit-inducing introductory message from the recruitment team. It's that sort of faux-matey 'we're a bit quirky in a self-deprecating, want to be your mate, sometimes we get a bit over-enthusiastics but HEY, thaaaat's US!' sort of way.

    I maintain a brand's presence on social networks, and I'll tell you how I got the job: by working hard for a long time.
    I'm not related to anybody in the company, I'm not rich, and I'm not a smug twat. I just worked long and hard for over five years. And I was patient. Don't be fooled by this kind of promotion - ultimately you'll still be stuffing envelopes and making coffee for some cretin if you get this 'post'.

    But anyway, you can take solace in that fact that the people lying to win this competition are probably universally despised by their friends, and maybe even their family. Nobody respects a liar. and if they want to engage people on a social network, they will fail, because, once again, nobody repects a liar.

    I would take this to a paper if I were you - the new media section of a national would have a field day.

  9. Hell, why not send it to campaign. They love a good saatchi batterin'. Seriously I work in advertising

  10. Sounds like you are bitter for not going through! Saatchis made it clear that they won't tolerate lying or misleading, and that the condidates lying would suffer if they make it to the final interview stage... The challenge was in a way also a test of morals.

    Also, the scheme is for handlers and planners, not creatives! Maybe next time find out what you are applying for...