Scary Smart Want Ad

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Just saw this full page ad in today’s New York Times:

“Top of your class? An innovator in your field? Wicked good at what you do? If so, maybe we should talk. Right now Google is looking for the brightest minds in…”

…technology? programming? math? How about Sales Management? Yep, you got it, this is a media company looking for ad sales people.

I have to say really admire this ad on multiple levels.

It’s striking/noticable. It’s playful and casual, both in visual approach and in it’s tone. As such it’s really consistent with the company’s image and positioning. It’s also consistent with this image and culture in that it is a tad bit arrogant – all about being super smart – in all parts of the organization.

I love that they use their own product as the call to action. Not a url but a suggested search entry “scary smart”and then clicking on the sponsored link on the side. Or you can email

I also like that it’s timely – playing off the Halloween theme – even in saying that they want to “create and almost spookily entreprenurial environment.”

Frankly, I think that it is a bit eerie that it was in response to a very similar want ad almost 15 years ago that I got my real job in technology. The ad was from the scrappiest, coolest, most successful, most irreverent company of the time… Microsoft.

The ad back then started with a big bold headline (right next to a then very boring IBM ad):


It was an ad for a technical evangelist, a job for which I had no qualifications. But I sure did not want to be a cog. So I told Microsoft that I was not at all qualified but that I wasn’t a cog and that they should talk to me anyway. And they did just that, overlooking the details and hiring me on smarts (fooled ’em) and attitude.

I wonder what they would do today.