America. It’s just a hop skip and a jump over the pond. But when it comes to recruitment advertising, it feels a world away. But what – fundamentally – is the difference between advertising in the UK vs the US?
We’re not all that different, really. And the average American candidate wants similar things to the average British candidate – whether that’s purpose, a feeling of place, great benefits, variety or flexibility – there are some things we can all agree on.
But getting that message across is where we differ. There are a few key cultural differences that dictate how each country advertises, and in order to run an effective campaign in multiple markets, it’s important to bear them in mind:
The art of subtlety
As a rule, Brits don’t like things that are over the top. For most Londoners, a hi from a stranger on the street is enough to send them scurrying on their way. But your average American isn’t scared of maxing out on positivity.
For advertising, it’s the difference between a soft sell and a hard sell. In the UK, we tend to imply, expecting people to fill in the gaps themselves. In the US, messaging tends to be more upfront and direct.
On the whole, Americans are more loyal to the brands they know than Brits.
Britain actually has some of the lowest rates of brand loyalty in the world, with just 8 per cent of UK consumers reporting that they are loyal to their favourite brands, compared to 23 per cent in the U.S.
For recruiting, that means that Brits are more likely to be influenced by the draw of individual adverts, rather than adverts from companies they are familiar with. In the US, where brand loyalty is much higher, companies that have strong consumer or employer brands might find engaging with candidates already familiar with them easier.
Both the US and the UK have their fair share of national pride, but the ways it’s represented, and crucially employed, in advertising couldn’t be more different.
US national pride often comes in the form of patriotism. American flags, the pledge of allegiance and the national anthem are all hallmarks of the biggest event in the US advertising calendar – the Superbowl. Consequently, these things pop up in recruitment advertising time after time. And the themes of American strength, togetherness, and national spirit are tried and tested ways of engaging an audience.
UK national pride is less overt. Brits tend to shy away from outward displays of patriotism, but that doesn’t mean they’re not proud. They just express it in a different way. Take the nation’s loyalty to the NHS, for example. Effective British recruitment advertising, therefore, tends to speak more to communities or individuals, rather than the country as a whole.
So, how do you tailor your advertising to work effectively in different markets?
There is no one size fits all. And what works for one person, might not for another. It’s a good rule, however, to dial things up for an American audience, and employ a little more subtlety for a British audience. Appeal less to the nation as a collective for a British audience, but don’t be afraid to add a sprinkle of patriotism for an American audience.
The best recruitment advertising, however, answers one simple question on every candidate’s mind: What’s in it for me? That doesn’t differ much, no matter where you go in the world.
If you can answer this quickly, succinctly and in a way your target audience ‘gets’, US or UK, you’re well on your way to an effective campaign.