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How Snapchat helps B2B shipping giant Maersk snag millennial talent

Maersk's 'All the way' is a new direction for a century-old brand

Until the recent traffic jam in the Suez Canal, shipping probably wasn’t on most people’s minds — especially young digital and engineering talent looking for a top job. But Maersk feels it offers a unique career path for new graduates. That’s why it looked to Snapchat to directly reach its target audience with a new employment story for an old brand. The results, both good and bad, have been unexpected.

Shipping via the world’s waterways suddenly caught everyone’s attention when the Suez Canal became clogged this week by a ship the size of a skyscraper. People quickly learned that 10% of the world’s imports come through this vital entry point. They also witnessed how the delay of hundreds of freighters could cause a significant economic ripple.

The power and importance of the global supply chain, and keeping it flowing, an everyday concern for Danish shipping giant AP Moller – Maersk. It has also been the focus of a Snapchat-centered talent push that debuted in November.

While the choice of venue is surprising, so is the content and the results – which have been both good and, in one instance, bad.

The centerpiece of the campaign is Maersk’s ’Together, all the way — an anthem’ music video, which features rap lyrics about “data, blockchain, chip and code” alongside choreographed dancing with shipping boxes.

It’s definitely not your typical talent recruitment video for a business-to-business brand, but Maersk decided to commit to its ’All the way’ mantra when it launched its most radical talent drive to date.

Sam Poulter, head of Maersk’s corporate branding, says: “The same rules apply whether you're on Snap or you're in old media. If it's useful, relevant, catches the eye and can generate attention that people want to interact with it, then you’ve succeeded. You’re asking someone to interact that precious three seconds, five seconds and hopefully a minute and a half of the day. It can’t be a dusty message.”

Luring talent from Google and Facebook

Maersk, which is responsible for 20% of all global shipments, is in direct competition with the Googles and Facebooks of the world when it comes to attracting talent. It needs to fill a flurry of roles in four key markets: its hometown of Copenhagen, the US, UK and India. India in particular will see hundreds of jobs postings in the next 12-24 months.

To address the issue head-on, it partnered with Havas UK to sell the dream of what it’s like to work at Maersk. It debuted its two-pronged ’All the way’ campaign on Snapchat while also testing Facebook/Instagram and LinkedIn. Based on its success, it is also dipping its toes into the waters of TikTok and Reddit.

The first prong features its high-energy ’Anthem’ music video. Colorful and brash, it’s less about ocean freight and more about “the commitment to connect the world so that everyone has the possibility and the ability to trade, grow and thrive.”

The second wave of video content features actual employees discussing themselves and what they do. Through mid-March, results on Snapchat included:

  • 431,000 video views.

  • 290,000 swipe ups.

  • 1.9% click-through rate.

  • The average cost per swipe up is about 83 cents.

  • India is the hero market with 176,300 clicks.

  • 94% of the content reached talent under 35.

“In the first couple of weeks of tracking it was clear that Snapchat was working,” says Poulter, who had looked at Snapchat as a platform years earlier but didn’t feel the time was right yet. Today, he says, “The proof stories of employees talking about what they are working on and why they love working here are getting a lot of good traction, both organically and through the paid social as well.”

A considered approach to a new channel

The ’All the way’ Snapchat campaign was rolled out in four phases: phase one featured teaser snippets from the ’Anthem’ music video in November. Phase two featured four Snap ads from the video that ran up until the holidays. Phase three, in January and February, focused on trivia and employee stories. Phase four, running this month, digs deeper into the employee experience and job functions at Maersk.

The content was paired with parameters that aligned with the brand film, including travel enthusiasts, culture, tech and gadgets, entrepreneurs and even “party people.”

The goal was to raise awareness among these new pools of talent — even the party people — and change perceptions among those already aware of Maersk, but who may have an outdated view of the brand. Diversity, sustainability and digitalization were among the key pillars. “It put us on the radar and got people to think about Maersk as a place where they can actually thrive.”

The content directs people to Maersk careers site and a full microsite showcasing employee stories.

Taking such a considered approach is essential, says Jillian Ryan, principal analyst at eMarketer. She cautions that it’s easy to get on Snapchat, but it’s also easy to mess it up. “Human resources departments are going to look at this and say, ‘Oh that's the place we can play.’ But you shouldn't enter the foray of using Snapchat for recruitment purposes, and recruitment brand awareness, unless you have a fully baked strategy."

“It isn’t just somewhere where you go and kind of experiment,“ Ryan says. “You really need to go in there understanding exactly what cohort you’re looking to reach and what you’re looking to reach them with. What's your employer brand story that you're looking to get out there? You need to have the resources to create that content long-term to build up that flywheel.”

Unexpected blowback in Maersk’s backyard

One place where Maersk didn’t invest dollars was Twitter. Yet that’s where the shipping giant received a lot of attention, albeit the type it didn’t want. In its hometown of Copenhagen, the new direction and tone drew the ire of some local branding experts.

“In their opinion, this was too far away from our core brand,” says Poulter. “We’re a 100-year-old company and a national icon, so there was a bit of learning in our home market that comes with going from 0 to 100... It was a storm in a teacup for three weeks on Twitter.”

Overall, he says the global response has been extremely positive, to the tune of an 87% positivity rating. Best of all, Poulter says, the campaign has helped fill roles by being true to its values.

eMarketer’s Ryan isn’t surprised by the campaign’s success and says this is just the latest example of how quickly B2B marketing has evolved. “It's a sometimes-misguided notion that B2B is always behind consumer-facing brands. The pandemic showed just how agile and nimble B2B companies can be.”

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