One Company's Bold Campaign to Win the Best Talent in the Bay Area

May 5, 2016

Veronica Kainz was worried. She was about to ask her MuleSoft colleague Paul Davidian if she could plaster his picture all over the Caltrain station in San Francisco.

It was for recruiting after all. But still, he could easily say no.

To her surprise, he said yes. Six others said yes too.

Veronica was thrilled and relieved. She and her team had spent weeks building superhero characters around their co-workers as part of MuleSoft’s first formal talent campaign.

“In retrospect,” Veronica reflects, “It makes sense that they all agreed. It’s a testament to our fun and amazing culture. Everyone was so willing to participate and eager to promote our company as a great place to work.”

Not your average talent campaign

As a high-growth company, recruiting is MuleSoft’s #1 priority. It recently launched a six-week recruitment campaign in a Bay Area train station that featured seven employees as modern-day superheroes.

Focused on high-priority roles in Sales and Engineering and inspired by trending comic book movies, Veronica and her team developed characters such as “Octo-coder, Master Hacker” for JavaScript Engineer Blake Embrey, "The Hunter, Closer of Deals" for Ross Rubinchuk and “Sales Sensei, Seeker of Leads” for Amanda Arthur, both in Sales Development.

  • mulesoft recruiting campaign
  • mulesoft recruiting campaign

They created 30 pieces of art to wrap the entire train station – from pillars to walls to floors - influencing 220,000 daily commuters. 

  • mulesoft recruiting campaign

“By showcasing the extraordinary talent of our own employees and highlighting their superpowers, we aimed to attract candidates of the same caliber,” says Melanie Tantingco, a MuleSoft recruiting manager.

MuleSoft’s five-person in-house creative team drove the success of the campaign and used their collective skills to do all of the casting, costuming, copywriting, photography, lighting, special effects and art production. The team only outsourced hair and makeup. “By running the project in-house, we maintained more creative control and costs were minimal,” adds Veronica.

  • mulesoft recruiting campaign

By relying on the internal talent of Veronica Kainz (creative direction) Chris Payne (art direction) Michael Hindman (photography) Ken Grobe (copy) and Liza Gray (wardrobe and prop design), most of the campaign costs were free. 

On launch day, members of the recruiting team rallied at the station to generate additional buzz during commuting hours. They were carefully trained to work alongside the company’s mascot, Max the Mule, to help tell the MuleSoft story and answer questions. Instead of recruiting brochures, they distributed custom comic books, complete with a $5,000 referral reward advertised on the back cover.

  • mulesoft recruiting campaign

The comic book handout

  • mulesoft recruiting campaign

The preliminary results are looking good

There’s no question MuleSoft’s superheroes have been victorious in attracting talent.

The company has seen a 20% increase in career page traffic in the Bay Area, far exceeding expectations. In the first week of launch, it saw a 40% increase in Sales Development, a 66% increase in Software Engineering, and a 44% increase in Product Management applications for the roles it was actively promoting.

On social media, engagement jumped too. Here’s a quick sample of tweets and LinkedIn messages: 

  • mulesoft recruiting
  • mulesoft recruiting
  • mulesoft recruiting

The campaign has also boosted internal morale. Veronica’s initial nervousness in asking employees to participate is now amusing considering some are requesting to be in the next campaign. “People want to be a part of something big, especially when they see employees having fun,” she says.

In addition to the results, here are six other reasons why we loved this campaign:

1. It was bold

“We’ve never done anything like this before,” says Melanie. “Our recruitment pushes have mostly been internal hire-a-thons and referral campaigns. This was our first time going so public with our efforts, which is particularly difficult to do in the enterprise space. But now people are starting to recognize us as both a brand and an employer.”

2. It was calculated

The team worked closely with PR and social media counterparts to ensure success. They thought carefully about what could go wrong, and how they’d address different scenarios. They heavily prepared the street team as well as all Bay Area employees. “We finally got to a place where we felt that we had thought through everything,” says Veronica, “So we were comfortable taking it live.”

3. It was scrappy

The only significant cost of the campaign was the Caltrain space, and it only took the team about three months from idea to launch, with the majority of that time spent on concept development.

4. It used MuleSoft’s own employees

Not only did MuleSoft keep costs down and boost morale by using its own employees, but elevating them to celebrity status shows candidates how deeply the company values and appreciates its talent.

5. It blended corporate and employer branding

MuleSoft isn’t a household name, so the company has the additional hurdle of brand awareness. That’s why it leveraged the ad space to attract talent and showcase its colors, logo, and mission. Look carefully, and you’ll notice there’s always a MuleSoft “M” in the art – whether it’s imprinted on a shield, tattooed on an arm, or sewn into a cape.

6. It was a true team effort between marketing, recruiting and leadership

Although marketing came up with the idea for the project, it was very much a joint collaboration with recruiting. “There is a tight bond between the two groups,” says Veronica. “This campaign was a huge combined effort.” 

* Image by Mulesoft

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