Back in the Saddle, Monster Unveils New Ads

Fresh from conceding defeat to Yahoo in the bid for career site HotJobs.com, employment advertising giant TMP Worldwide is preparing a big-budget ad campaign for its own site, Monster.com — which includes its fourth Super Bowl appearance.

The news of a pricey advertising spend comes just hours after TMP said it would not meet Yahoo’s higher bid for HotJobs, which TMP had planned to integrate alongside Monster.

At any rate, Maynard, Mass.-based Monster plans to unveil its new ad campaign, “Never Settle,” during Bowl games beginning Jan. 1, with its big splash coming a month later, with a 30-second spot during Super Bowl XXXVI on Feb 3. The exact cost of the ad buy was not disclosed, but sources close to the firm say it spent in excess of $1 million for the Super Bowl spot.

Monster described its new advertising message, crafted by Boston ad agency Arnold Worldwide — as inspirational and motivational. That’s a move that breaks from the trend for the company, which has typically favored more humorous spots. (Rival HotJobs, meanwhile, shifted to a more reverential tone more than a year earlier, with its “Onward, Upward” campaign that debuted in October, 2000.)

While the cost of a Super Bowl ad buy remains colossal, executives from Monster again defended its choice, saying that its ads during the past three years had reaped benefits in terms of generating traffic and brand awareness.

“The Super Bowl has been a proven vehicle for conveying our brand to an extensive nationwide audience, as it was instrumental in catapulting the brand to its current top position and has further implanted Monster as one of the perennial brands in the Super Bowl,” said Monster.com founder Jeff Taylor, who is now interactive global director for TMP Worldwide.

Still, the decision to again foot the bill for a Super Bowl ad — which airs this year on Fox — appears to have been more difficult for Monster to make. Indeed, the site only finalized its decision to buy a spot during the past ten days, sources told internetnews.com.

At any rate, Monster.com’s new ads first will run during a host of college Bowl games — the Nokia Sugar Bowl, Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, Capital One Florida Citrus Bowl, FedEx Orange Bowl, and the Rose Bowl — all of which air on ABC and ESPN. That portion of the site’s advertising spend comes as a result of Monster.com’s longstanding relationship with the two Disney-owned networks. Disney and Monster.com, for instance, operate a co-branded careers site on ESPN.com.

Monster’s collegiate Bowl ad buy also includes branded blimp coverage of the Orange Bowl.

In addition to the Bowl Championship Series buys, Monster.com is sponsoring the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, as well as the 2002 and 2004 U.S. Olympic Teams, and plans an Olympic-themed version of its “Never Settle” spot.

As part of the Olympic promotional effort, Monster plans to unveil TeamUSAnet, a career site designed exclusively for U.S. Olympic athletes and Olympic hopefuls. The site, created with the blessing of the U.S. Olympic Committee, features tools like a resume builder and job searches, as well as an Olympic mentoring network and content geared specifically to athletes.

Similarly, Monster created a portal for Olympic volunteers, which the Salt Lake Organizing Committee will use to organize the volunteers during this year’s Winter Games.

Monster said the two efforts signal a commitment to the Games beyond its ad campaign buy, and leave a lasting legacy on the 2002 Olympic Winter Games.

“The 2002 marketing blitz is a Monster kick off to a Monster year, as we will inspire job seekers everywhere to Never Settle in their lives and careers. With the Super Bowl, the Olympic Winter Games, and the [Bowl Championship Series] … Monster will receive tremendous exposure and reach key audiences nationwide,” Taylor said.

While Monster looks to be taking the high road with what it called a softer, uplifting spot, the site didn’t shy away from taking a few shots at HotJobs.com and Yahoo.

For instance, in a press release announcing its decision to make a Super Bowl buy, the company took the opportunity to describe its position as most-visited career site, as ranked by Jupiter Media Metrix. Yet, HotJobs and Monster have flip-flopped in Jupiter’s rankings during the past several months.

And in discussing the advertising buy, Taylor referred to Monster’s distribution deals with AOL Time Warner’s America Online and Microsoft Corp.’s MSN portal — which the site called the two most-visited Internet portals. Again, that’s based on Jupiter’s figures, whereas Jupiter rival NetRatings counts Yahoo as the No. 2. Web portal.

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