Winners 2019

Best international campaign

The Global Talent Crunch
Korn Ferry
Agency: Man Bites Dog

After global executive search firm Korn Ferry acquired consultancy Hay Group, it challenged Brighton-based agency Man Bites Dog to create a global thought leadership campaign, targeted at the executive suite, which would reinforce the enlarged organisation’s talent capability but also change its positioning from transactional headhunter to strategic adviser.

The agency started by taking apart the prevailing view that artificial intelligence (AI) will lead to significant job losses, a view that has propelled technology to the top of the Boardroom agenda. Instead, Man Bites Dog wanted to transform the ‘soft’ issue of people into a ‘hard’ business imperative.

Using proprietary 4D ideation methodology, it synthesised intelligence about the labour market, the macro environment, current thinking and Korn Ferry’s proposition in order to highlight the value of people to organisations. It set out to prove that AI will generate more skilled jobs, making the right kind of talent more important to the future of work.

Its hypothesis was that globalisation, demographics and the growth of knowledge intensive industries would mean that corporates in major markets would struggle to find the skilled talent on which their future depends.

In doing so, Man Bites Dog challenged economic convention by showing that traditional labour forecasting, which assumes supply will always keep up with demand, is not fit for the 21st Century. Its model concentrated on three knowledge-intensive sectors: financial and business services, technology, media and telecommunications (TMT) and manufacturing. The financial impact of labour shortages was measured in terms of unrealised economic output. Research was conducted across 20 major countries, generating results at three key milestones: 2020, 2025 and 2030.

This analysis implied that a global talent crunch will be felt by 2020, leading to a shortage of 85.2 million skilled workers by 2030, threatening $8.5 trillion in global gross domestic product.

Having demonstrated the cost of the talent crunch to economies and sectors, Korn Ferry’s consultants mapped the economic model against their proprietary salary database. The Salary Surge study uncovered a $2.5 trillion rise in annual payrolls by 2030, with wage bills set to rise by an average of $11,164 per worker.

Man Bites Dog then conducted global opinion research to create a gap analysis between the economic reality and business perceptions. This revealed that 84 per cent of business leaders believe they will need more highly skilled workers as a percentage of their workforce but only half – 52 per cent – believe there will be a deficit by 2030. Just one in ten had a long-term talent plan.

The agency then informed, engaged and mobilised Korn Ferry’s consultants so that they could use the campaign to produce profitable conversations with C-suite executives. Local content toolkits were produced for 20 countries, segmented by sector, which included white papers, videographics, infographics, blogs and an interactive salary surge calculator.

The campaign generated more than 600 articles across the world, as well as 158,000 octal shared and Korn Ferry’s largest ever spike in web mentions and traffic. It has also produced opportunities for senior leaders to hold high-level talks with politicians as well as projects to map global talent pipelines for several companies.

The judges were impressed by the ‘breadth and depth of impact’ of the campaign, which they recognised had ‘real commercial benefits’. ‘Such impressive results,’ they commented.