So, Was 84 Lumber’s Super Bowl Recruitment Ad Worth It?

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Mar 10, 2017

Up until about 2008, the employment industry was abuzz about job sites running ad spots during the Super Bowl. Monster and CareerBuilder were regulars in those days, but they have since walked away from the big stage in light of tighter economics and a more competitive environment.

Fast forward to now and the fact that we’re talking about companies buying airtime for employment-focused spots on the world’s most-watched media event is surprising, to say the least. Five million bucks for 30-seconds to drive candidate flow and reenforce an employer-of-choice message? An enterprise could enlist an army of recruiters and buy a lot of Facebook clicks for that kind of coin.

Arguably no employer took a bigger risk this year than 84 Lumber. Taking a political angle, the ad was a full minute-and-a-half in length introduction of a Mexican mother and daughter coming to America. Not getting the full message relayed in that time, the company then asked viewers to go online to see the rest of the story at Journey84. The video there is 5:44 in length. The 90-second ad that ran during the Super Bowl continued to run on ESPN and FOX for two weeks following the game.

A month hence, how’d it go?

“It showed the world that 84 Lumber is a company of opportunity,” said Amy Smiley, director of marketing at 84 Lumber. “A company that cares more about your attitude and work ethic than your resume and degrees. If you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and work hard, we’ll do the same to support you in building your career. I think that came across loud and clear.”

Smiley said the goal was to increase awareness of 84 Lumber across the country and that it “certainly did that.”

Metrics support an increase in awareness, both positive and negative. BRUNNER, 84 Lumber’s ad agency’s web site touts the fact that AdWeek named the ad one of its five best. You can see the link right below BRUNNER’s claim that the commercial “broke the Internet and won the Super Bowl.”

Others weren’t so favorable. An amusing editorial in the New York Post entitled “What was 84 Lumber thinking with its Super Bowl ad” said, “‘Come on, illegal immigrants: Risk your lives, drag yourself across the harshest terrain and endure the most agonizing hardships. We need the cheap labor!'”

Opinion aside. What were some of the numbers?

Smiley wouldn’t disclose exact numbers on applicant flow and hires, but confirmed a spike. “It’s still really early in the process, but we’ve definitely seen an uptick in the traffic to our careers page and the applications we’ve received.” Public sources confirm a spike in traffic, but also show a quick decline. For instance, the Bitly URL the company used on social media to promote the commercial on YouTube has a total of 202,508 clicks to date, almost all of them coming the week of February 5. Twitter was the biggest driver of clicks with 127,220.


The 90-second video on YouTube has 3,201,953 views as of this writing, and the full-length ad has 10,950,498 views. Whoever posted the videos didn’t make the analytics available, so it’s difficult to tell how much viewership dropped. Google Trends, however, shows a similar drop to the Bitly link after spiking post-Super Bowl for the term “84 lumber jobs.”

Marketing numbers are one thing, but I have to assume the company will determine success or failure on the number of people hired as a result of the campaign. Don’t hold your breath for that data point, but 84 Lumber seems comfortable enough to keep the ball rolling.

“Now that we’ve got 84 Lumber on people’s radar, we’re about to launch into our 2017 recruitment plan that will include a new 30-second commercial that will be a much more direct call to action for potential candidates,” said Smiley. Sounds like they’ll be moving away from political firestorms moving forward, however, adding, “We do not plan to continue the immigrant storyline as part of this campaign.”

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