You may have heard about our latest ad. It ran on a well-known NSFW website, and got several strong reactions on social media. We would like to explain what lead us to posting the ad in the first place.
Firstly, a little about ourselves. We are Label A and we are a development agency. We build websites and develop apps and platforms for all types of companies. You’ve probably used one of our apps without realizing it at some point! As a company, we thrive on growth, both technological and personal. We never stand still for long. As a company, we are 8 years old. Our growth is fundamentally rooted in attracting individuals from all spheres and of all sexualities, nationalities, ethnicities and religions.
As developers, we are more than a little aware that the amount of women working in tech is astonishingly low. Globally, around 15% of tech employees are female. In the Netherlands, it’s 10%.
Compare that number to the statistics of people visiting the most popular websites on the internet; yes, we’re talking about porn. After some research we found out that 27% of Pornhub’s visitors are women. Which led to a joke saying that our next job opening should be advertised on a porn website.
Well, why not? We want to target our job openings to the platform we advertise on. Although the ad itself was more than a little raunchy, and very much open to misinterpretation, our goal, aside from hiring more coders, was to catch people unawares, shock into action, and perhaps even start a conversation. We succeeded.
Advertising on a porn site was definitely a bold move, but this great of an issue can only be tackled boldly!
So, About That Ad…
The first draft of the ad was actually made completely according to standard Label A guidelines. It looked pretty cool. No nudes, just the same graphics we use to advertise on Facebook. We then started researching the channels we actually wanted to use, and what the other ads looked like there. It may not come as that great of a surprise to you that all the ads on the porn channels are… explicit. In order to fit in with all the other ads, we needed to mirror the status quo. Although there are no actual written rules about non-porn vendors advertising on porn sites, insiders told us that we would be declined if our presentation did not match that of the other ads.
Our first draft was indeed declined. So much for playing it safe.
We had a few basic rules we set for ourselves because we wanted to keep it somewhat SFW. This meant no nudity. Even for us the ad is a little over the line, but again, the aim was to get attention.
Our end result was an ad that fit the style of our chosen platform enough to be accepted without crossing the line into actual sexual content, yet was still raunchy enough to grab people’s attention. For those that aren’t regular visitors of such websites, getting an ad noticed on porn sites is very, very, very difficult.*
*Our male version of the ad was never accepted.
Leaving a Footprint
As rooted as we are in growth, in the last few months we’ve realized that we’ve turned into a “Brogrammer” team. This is a sad but very common occurrence everywhere within the tech sector from Amsterdam, to Silicon Valley itself. For whatever reason, our team was comprised of 54 guys and only 8 women! And this puts us at 12.9%, which is still above the national Dutch average of 11%, we needed to do something about this.
To fix the problem, we started researching articles, talks, and followed the work of key personalities on the topic such as Lauren Kinsey or Karen Catlin. After that, we started an internal roundtable around Women in Tech about making Label A a reference company in gender equality.
During the course of this internal roundtable, we try to focus on awareness, male allies, female-friendly physical spaces, female-friendly job openings and female participant hackathons. We want to leave our mark on this topic, and we’re bursting with ideas. For instance, female students interested in tech can join our team for a week, develop a concept and create cool and brilliant digital products. Awareness is just the beginning!
Was the Ad Effective?
While creating the ad, we asked ourselves constantly whether anyone would click it. We’re not even sure we would. Even though porn is one of the biggest online industries, it’s still a taboo. Who would go to a recruitment site directly from a porn site?
The duration of the experiment is of course too short to draw a conclusion, but for the short time it was live we got a lot of traffic. The ad was out there for about 12 hours on which we spent around 13 euros in total. For that 13 euros we got way more clicks then we would have had with Google.
It wouldn’t surprise you, but we had zero job applicants from the ad. So even though we had a lot of traffic, it wasn’t the quality of traffic we were aiming for.
Would We Do It Again?
Yes! You wouldn’t believe what the ad did to our internal team. Discussing an ad like this with our team stirred up a lot of conversation. Some liked it, others didn’t. The same goes for the reactions on social media. However, when we explained the background internally, everybody got the message and, eventually, we had fun making the ad.
We hope to finally be sparking a real discussion that will potentially lead to more women in tech. If you would like to weigh in on the diversity discussion or contribute to our roundtable discussions regarding Women in Tech, be sure to contact us. And if you would like to apply for a job, even after all of these shenanigans, check out our job openings on our Homerun page.