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Ad for 'The World's Toughest Job' has a twist Add to ...

Persuasion Notebook offers quick hits on the business of persuasion from The Globe and Mail’s marketing and advertising reporter, Susan Krashinsky. Read more on The Globe’s marketing page and follow Susan on Twitter @Susinsky.

Candidates described the job as “twisted,” “all-encompassing,” and “inhumane.”

Ad agency Mullen posted a classified ad for a job that they called “operations manager,” and then conducted 24 interviews and recorded the candidates’ reactions – all to advertise a product that had nothing to do with the job supposedly offered.

The list of qualifications was exhaustive; and sounded exhausting. “If you had a life, we’d ask you to sort of give that life up,” the interviewer told applicants. “No vacations. In fact, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years – on holidays, the workload is going to go up and we demand that.”

Furthermore, the interviewer demanded that all this be accomplished “with a happy disposition.”

The job offered no breaks, and little time for sleeping or eating. Oh, and no pay.

Watch the video, or scroll down to find out what the reveal was.

The “World’s Toughest Job,” was of course revealed to be motherhood.

It highlighted the fact the billions of women are asked to sacrifice their needs, desires – and occasional shreds of their sanity – while juggling household finances, the physical strains of child-rearing 24 hours a day, and other demands of managing a family life. All without compensation beyond “the meaningful connections that you make, and the feeling you get from really helping your associate.”

When it was revealed that they were duped, the interviewees reacted with messages of appreciation.

“Oh my god, moms are the best,” one candidate said.

The ingenious prank, which attracted more than 2.7 million online views in less than 48 hours, was in fact an ad for Cardstore.com, a subsidiary of greeting card company American Greetings. The website allows users to make customized greeting cards.

The campaign seems to be taking inspiration from the massively successful advertising platform that Procter & Gamble has used for a few years now. Its “Thank you, Mom” campaign showed mothers as the driving force behind athletes’ success. In the campaign that ran during the London Olympics in 2012, one of the key lines was, “The hardest job in the world is the best job in the world.” The key difference: P&G’s ads were meant to speak to female consumers who make many of the purchasing decisions in their households; whereas this new video is meant for the children who have benefited from years of dedication and gruelling work to raise them.

After hearing about what mothers sacrifice to give their children as much as they can, the ad suggests a gesture that seems tiny in comparison: Make your mother a card for Mother’s Day this year.

It’s a clever and touching surprise (and a kinder, gentler version of the prank advertising that has been gaining in popularity recently.) And it is also a guilt trip any mom would be proud of.

Most importantly for the marketers, it may just sell some greeting cards.

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Follow on Twitter: @susinsky

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