Saturday, 13 November 2010

Poker tournaments and online videogames to lure and attract Generation Y, are these effective?

Recruitment professionals and practitioners are nowadays striving to find new, effectual ways to attract and retain Generation Y talent, using their imagination in the extreme to come up with appealing and original ideas to reach their target. It should not came as complete surprise hence that the creatives of an advertising French agency decided to organize a poker tournament to give applicants the change to literally win an internship at their agency. This is not a bluff; on November 26th the students of the most authoritative French universities and colleges like Sciences Po, the Essec, the Fémis and the HEC will dispute access to eight internships at the advertising agency H by playing cards.

The eight available places are divided into two types of internships:

Premium internships – to which will be admitted the first two winners of the competition, are due to last for six months. Interns will work in France during the first five months and in the UK for the last remaining month. These specific internships relate to a creative and a sales position;

Hybrid internships – which will be offered to six contestants, are expected to span six months, too. During the first five months interns are due to fill a strategic planning position, whereas during the final month these will have the opportunity to cover a creative role.

All of the individuals selected, or rather, the tournament’s winners will receive a remuneration package of €1,000 per month.

The agency, which boasts amongst its clients L’Oréal and Citroën, allegedly decided to have recourse to this type of event to lure Generation Y students and graduates, and desires to come in contact with the most “rebel” students of the best French colleges. It is likely that, in addition to the eight official winners, the agency may make some offers to the other contestants who will catch the attention of the agency consultants.

The advertising firm claims that such a contest will enable its partners to determine the rational qualities of the candidates, in particular their stress management and anticipation capabilities. The agency supports its unusual recruitment methodology claiming that its team wishes to adopt an approach giving its current partners the opportunity to spend a longer period of time with applicants, rather than the average one our time typically offered by a classic interview. This type of event, which the agency actually decided to organize by reason of having recently worked on the advertising campaign of an online gaming firm, will indeed enable the agency consultants to spend four to five hours with the candidates.


In order for the agency’s consultants to establish a closer contact with applicants and have the possibility to better discern and select the personalities of the agency’s future interns, these have planned to join the different tables during the unfolding of the contest. Elisabeth Billiemaz, the agency’s Managing Director, claimed that the tournament has been organized in order to make the students of these prestigious colleges aware of the agency activities. The adverting firm aims at attracting some “original personalities”, big heads with a “ludic potential.” Thanks to this event the agency also hopes to attract the media attention in order to introduce its activities to a wider audience of potential recruits. Mrs. Billiemaz averred that the advertising industry attracts less and less young candidates, who consider advertising directly linked to a consumer society image, which with the exception of hi-tech products these habitually tend to deplore.

Recruitment and selection professionals have react with astonishment to the organization of such an event and have expressed a certain level of concern. Students associations consider this initiative dismay and lacking of respect for students. In essence, these consider inappropriate asking candidates to participate in a poker tournament, based on gambling, for having an internship opportunity. The agency management has claimed to be aware that these young people have passed several and very selective exams already and that they are all hence likely to meet the requirements necessary to deserve the internship with the agency.

Despite advertising agencies are used to overexploit internships, critics argue that in this case the message is even more disastrous, insofar as some commentators even thinking that the next sensation advertising agencies will come up with is to invite applicants to combat on the arena as gladiators. The visual communication style used by the agency to get the message across has indeed been the object of, to put it mildly, controversy, too. The woman showed in the poster, who seems to bow just to, so to speak, increase visibility of her bottom and breast features, seems to convey the message that admissions may be subject to a certain form of “kindness and availability” from the side of the candidates. Mrs. Billiemaz responded to this allegation contending that the advertising is deliberately ludicrous; nobody could really believe that it is required to resort to charming strategies to obtain the internship. After all, continues Mrs. Billiemaz also during job interviews you try to be pleasant, of course in the most appropriate way. This approach has been deliberately adopted to draw the media interest and make it more amusing the recruiting activities, albeit this is indeed inconsistent with the firm values. The meaning typically attached to bluff is in fact in open contrast with the cooperation spirit fostered within the organization by its HR Function. Mrs Billiemaz added that the agency would never resort to such a method for recruiting staff, which does not clearly really help to understand why the agency decided to adopt this approach for attracting interns.


Organizations trying to lure Generation Y individuals are increasingly betting on this kind of strategy, which is somewhat in between HR and Marketing, albeit none of the investigations and studies conducted thus far amongst Yers has ever revealed that these individuals are prone to gambling or would like to find poker tables in a business canteen.

To create a sensation, the French firm L’Oréal has launched last January a videogame in the Internet, Reveal, aiming at expanding the talent pool of their cosmetics group targeting Generation Y individuals, that is to say “digital natives” and people born with the Internet. Irrespective of their nationality and profile, the videogame enables all the interested students to acquaint themselves with all the jobs available at L’Oréal, test themselves and face a whole range of different situations. The videogame test actually represents the first stage of the recruitment process.

The International Recruitment Director, François de Wazières, who bets on the potential of Generation Y people, claims that one third of the staff of the cosmetics firm is actually recruited by means of this method. Open to concepts like international, creative, connected 24/24 and the like Generation Y people would perfectly and globally match the type of personality sought by the group.

To attain its recruitment objectives and effectively reach and appeal to its Yers target L’Oréal does not skimp on means. Creator of business games of sector since 1993, author in 2007 of the first recruitment campaign in Second Life, the group does not really want to run the risk losing the “war for talent.” According to François de Wazières, Reveal has to this extent a triple advantage: enables the firm to diversify recruitment both in terms of profiles and nationalities, ensures candidates pre-selection on the basis of the videogame outcome and enables the organization to effectively promote and foster its image.

Despite technological advances, face to face interviews, which Yers do not regard as something particularly displeasing, can be by no means averted. Interviews are organized and conducted locally giving candidates the chance to be confronted with the organization reality.

L’Oréal hopes to reach the number of 100,000 Reveal registered users (or candidates) within the end of the year, 2010. Game over!