Are You The Hardest Working Person in America?

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I’m always on the lookout for innovative marketing campaigns that leverage user-generated content to build a compelling story that not only engages, but inspires people to share the content, the campaign and, often riding along, the brand. So, when I discovered a campaign that Mitchum is running as an online video contest, I was fascinated.

The name of the campaign is – Are You The Hardest Work Person in America? It’s built around a pretty sytlized site that offers a number of compelling “example” videos shot by documentary film maker, Albert Maysles to both draw you into the experience and inspire you to create and submit your own video. Once submitted, you’re then encouraged to promote your video to get it the most attention possible.

Why would you do this? For the chance to win $100,000, be crowned Hardest Working Person in America by Mitchum and have Maysles make a film about you (FYI, if you’re interested, I believe the contest ends on June 11, so hustle up!).

I spent some time poking around the site. And found Maysles’ short “example” films compelling and real. I love seeing stories not only of captains of industry, but also people who put in a real honest day’s work, have an impact, but are largely unsung by anyone beyond the immediate circle of folks they serve and impact.

Here’s a sample of one featuring the “hardest working baker”…

I also realized while watching the films, there’s hard work and there’s HARD WORK. I work hard, but I don’t put in anywhere near the hours, manual labor or effort many of the others in the films put in. So, much as I’d love to have Maysles shoot me, “Hardest Working Person” isn’t exactly a title I’d ever feel comfortable vying for.

When it comes down it, it’s a pretty interesting campaign. But, you’ve gotta ask, what’s in it for Mitchum?

Well the site is strongly co-branded, so you can’t help but be exposed to “the hardest working anti-perspirant in America” as you ride along in all these other real-life stories. If those stories create good feelings, if they connect with viewers on a visceral level, at least some of that ends up rubbing off on the brand.

And, if each contestant works hard to drive word-of-mouth and they get a lot of contestants, that feeling of connection potentially expands out to reach a lot of people.

So, I’m curious, what do you think of this type of campaign? Would you participate?

Does the nature of the sponsor affect your desire to participate in the campaign?

Did you find the website, videos and contest compelling? Enough to share?

Does it impact the connection you feel with the brand?

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14 responses

14 responses to “Are You The Hardest Working Person in America?”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jonathan Fields and Erik Proulx, Stephen Curry. Stephen Curry said: RT @eproulx: RT @jonathanfields: Are You The Hardest Working Person in America? Interesting social video campaign – […]

  2. Evan says:

    My problem is the kind of product. If the hardest working person has a genuinely difficult life the audience may feel, “So what is Mitchum doing about it?” After all they are only a deodarant not a campaign for social reform. I guess a lot depends on how it is done.

    I think they could have done something about: How do you work up a sweat? This wouldn’t have had this danger.

  3. Tim Brownson says:

    I just hate the whole hardest working thing PERIOD. It’s a remnant of the industrial age and the mindset that the longer you work the better more upstanding and decent person you are.

    How about a campaign “Are You The Smartest Working Person In America”?

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Yeah, it’s interesting. I enjoyed watching the example films. But, I think we tend to operate in such a different universe than the message the brand is trying to connect with.

      Though, I actually really get the sense of accomplishment that comes from working long hours with your body and your hands, of being a crafts-person on many level, of creating something you can touch and feel every day. There’s a magic to that. To not defaulting to systems, commodotizing knowledge and speed.

      Your idea about the “smartest working person” was one of the first things I thought about when I saw the campaign, too. But, I also began to think we all too often abandon the sense of immersion and satisfaction that comes from one body, two hands, intense focus and something to show at the end of the day.

      Knowledge work may be smarter, more productive, but in the end, it doesn’t necessary “feel” better.

    • Werner says:

      I agree wholeheartedly with Tim.

      Growing up I watched my Dad work a full time job, then put in a few hours at a part time job every workweek. On weekends he’d go to yet another part time job. He did all this to support a family of seven. To me, he was the hardest working person in America. The truth of it is there were lots of dads in my neighborhood who worked just as hard.

      Even as a kid I knew there was a better way and resolved not to work as my father had. I wanted a better quality of life and more time for my family. So far, I’ve done pretty well. The “feel better” part which Jonathan mentions comes from my having been there for all of my kid’s life events.

  4. Evan says:

    “Making is thinking” – Richard Sennett ‘The Craftsman’

  5. I have the same feeling as you and Tim have, is there something that could help them do even better than they are now? I know that is an incredibly assuming thing to think, that I would have answers they wouldn’t have thought of in years of their perspective businesses.

    I also love the act of doing. There is a reason why I cook a good portion of all my meals when I could just go out and buy every meal. The act of cooking is very rewarding and creating things with my hands is essential for my emotional well being. I am sure this is the same way that the man who runs the bakery in Brooklyn feels about his business.

    However, when I watched the video with the husband and wife team who are chocolatiers, I felt throughout the video that they were somehow missing what being an entrepreneur is all about. Yes, you put in very long hours, but the point, to me, is to give yourself the freedom to enjoy life, to make your own schedule and enjoy working those long hours. They just seem so sad to have given up things in their mind for their interpretation of ‘the American dream.’

    My input is to think that maybe these people are the hardest working in America, but they have been so focused for so long on their craft that they have missed a few shortcuts or outsourcing opportunities that would keep them in the creative flow more often.

  6. This comment is just to make sure I get replies via email. thanks 🙂

  7. Meg says:

    Saw this ad for the first time last night and thought it was an outrageous piece of b.s. It exploits people who do manual work for a living, encouraging them to celebrate the fact that they have bought into the idea of abusing themselves and their time for a few dollars. I’m the child of such a worker and worked like that for many years myself, so know this first hand.

  8. Kathy says:

    It’s already working. I wasn’t sure who Mitchum was or what they did till you threw in the line about deodorant. Then I remembered. I think people are fascinated by such tales.

  9. Rex says:

    It’s interesting that I just saw the commercial on TV last night, then I read about it the next morning on your blog, Jonathan. Everything’s connected.

    I thought it was an interesting campaign myself. I like the idea of recognizing the unsung heroes. I’m a ‘knowledge worker’ like yourself, so not as personally connected to those trials as some of your other readers. I can understand their point and am completely for getting as much education as possible so you can earn a sufficient living without the physical toil and time sacrifice away from family.

    But this is the life that these people have chosen, and we should recognize that they are doing something that most of us appreciate being done, and that most of us would have a hard time doing ourselves, so we should be grateful.

    Plus, it’s getting a whole segment of people who probably don’t spend as much time online, to get online and find out what’s out there.

    The other reason this campaign is great, and needed, is because the USA has a global reputation of being lazy. “That’s why most of our work is being outsourced, because American workers don’t work as hard.” THEY SAY. But I don’t believe it! So I hope this campaign helps spread a different message to the world.

    And I think it’s perfect that a deodorant is sponsoring it. Good for them. Smart marketing. I’d buy some.

  10. Shanna says:

    I work on a family owned cattle-ranch myself. So I recognize bullshit when I see it. This is not condemnation. Bullshit can be useful.

    But that’s how I see the romanticizing of hard work. Ok, yes, there is a certain satisfaction to a hard day full of accomplishments. Living on the ranch, we routinely fill every daylight hour with work. Sometimes that’s fine, the price of living far from city life and being outside everyday. But after 10 hours of breakdowns in -40 weather, a blizzard on the way and chores not even started– I guarantee you won’t feel the same way. You start to look at being upside down on the mortgage on 15 square miles of land, every calf owned by the bank before it even drops in the spring, and 60 of unrelenting debt and labour as not being at all worth it.

    But a balanced point of view might include a look at the hardest playing person in america

  11. John Sherry says:

    No, but I am one of the simply happiest in the UK!

  12. Andy says:

    Personally, I loathe this approach to marketing because it is disingenuous and manipulative. Mitchum isn’t contributing anything new or remarkable to the world of deodorant (or any other business for that matter). They are trying to romanticize manual labor, get you sympathetic for those hard working people, then hope that you will associate those positive feelings with their product.

    To me, a campaign like this says one thing: we can’t make our core product any better than the other guys, but we can make you feel better about buying it. This approach is so incredibly overplayed (i.e. all of Axe’s marketing trying to make you feel like a chick magnet) it is almost laughable that it is still attempted. How about this: instead of paying a marketing firm gobs of money to come up with an ‘innovative’ new way to make the customer feel good about buying the product, why not use that money to actually take care of the customer and make a superior product? I don’t care how good the packaging, a superior product that is communicated authentically will always trump an average product in gold plated wrapper.