Skip to content

Think Stink




Not since Gerald Ratner uttered the immortal phrase,

We also do cut-glass sherry decanters complete with six glasses on a silver-plated tray that your butler can serve you drinks on, all for £4.95. People say, “How can you sell this for such a low price?”,  I say, “because it’s total crap”.

has a marketing campaign backfired so massively (ok well there was the Post Office and Consignia) as the one launched by the CIPD today,


Which cockless half-brain came up with this as an idea is beyond me. The fact that it actually made it past brief and into the public domain is enough to make me want to take a machete to every advertising executive this side of Watford. Come to think of it I don’t think the poncey marketing types know that there is anything north of Watford.


So the immediate joke is the obvious one, thinking of HR…..I’d think again! Did you not notice that? Or were you so high on your own sense of self-importance that you completely overlooked the eye wateringly obvious?  Are your heads so far up your own sphincters that you cannot see that you have launched a campaign prime for mockery?

As if to add insult to injury, there is a website… break your preconceptions of HR being “dull” and “bureaucratic”.  On the front page it has a man who (whilst I am sure is a really nice guy) is juggling balls with a look on his face that I find somewhat disturbing.  Because…..guess what? In HR……we have to juggle…..priorities……geddit?

If that doesn’t put you off there is a “day in the life” category so you can see what groovy people we are in HR.  In one of them the writer mentions the word “meetings” no fewer than 10 times……in another the groovy HR ninja, “attended a pre-meeting” before attending a meeting.  No we aren’t dull or bureaucratic…..we’re in…..meetings…..wooohoooooo!

I despair…..if this is the campaign that the CIPD think is going to change the image, then I may as well lower my trousers, bend over and prepare to take it like a big boy.  I’m angry, I’m disappointed, I’m frustrated…..

This is my profession.  You are my professional body.  It’s hard enough trying to be cool in HR, but when you weigh in like this, like a Dad dancing at a wedding, well quite frankly it makes me want to run and hide in the toilets with a bottle of contraband and a pack of fags.

If you want my subs, if you want my respect, if you want me to support you. Then get with it, get real, stop behaving like a bunch of fucking jerks and start understanding what the profession really does, what it needs and why.

Oh and another thing…….. for fuck sake……get a new agency.


Well what an  interesting 24 hours it has been.  After posting this yesterday, the traffic went through the roof….over twice the normal daily visits, which are healthy in themselves. I was looking at the traffic stats, when I noticed that a number of people were coming in from the CIPD website itself. I check out the link and it showed that there was a Twitter feed on the site. You can see it here.  It was showing anything that had a hastag #CIPD.

Well sure enough it was full of tweets about this post and others questioning the campaign.  I thought this really quite amusing and decided to tweet the link.  In less than an hour, the feed had been changed so that it only showed tweets using the #CIPD10 hash tag.  Of which there were a couple of glowing tweets by the CIPD and associates themselves.

I don’t believe in censorship, I believe in open debate and honesty.  So last night I and others tweeted links and comments on this development using the #CIPD10 hash tag.  The CIPD are clearly late starter, because it wasn’t until about 10 o’clock this morning that they clocked this and ONCE AGAIN changed the feed to now only showing those tweets including @CIPD_events.

Then I received this,

I was amazed.  Here was my professional body, who I fund basically telling me to shut up.  Once again they were trying to censor me.  I sent a message back asking for confirmation that everyone who used that hashtag for non-conference related information were also going to be told off.  Sure enough I started to hear from people that they too were being censored.  Now clearly the CIPD don’t read my blog, otherwise they would know my views on hashtags.

I replied (from bottom up),

To this point, I haven’t had a reply. 

So to those of you that say, engage and debate don’t criticise…..well what can you do?  It doesn’t really work when people keep trying to prevent your views from being heard.

CIPD – Another big fat fail I’m afraid.

33 Comments leave one →
  1. 09/30/2010 12:49

    Nice one. I especially like “cockless half brain!”

    But HR cool??


  2. KarenF HR Queen permalink
    09/30/2010 12:58

    I am not sure your application to join the ever so prestigious (precious) Cipd panel with Jackie Ormighty will be taken seriously. Stop beating around the bush and say what you mean!

  3. 09/30/2010 12:59

    Funnily enough I was talking about Gerald Ratner only the other day as an example of someone who fecked up big time. Difference was, falling on his sword took a bit longer as it was pre social media, but my point was that these days, if you say or do anything that could be open for ridicule then it surely has to be that much more catastrophic doesn’t it? I mean, reputations could be ruined in hours once the social media ball starts rolling.

    I recall that woman, Jan Moir I think her name was, who came out with some crass comment about Stephen Gateley after his untimely death. She was trending within less than a day, and not a lot of it particularly good trending. I’m not suggesting (I haven’t seen the CIPD offering for one thing) that the CIPD offering is akin to Ms Moir’s inane ramblings or indeed Mr Ratner’s hari kari episode, but clearly, wherever you are, whatever you do, if you put something iffy out there, sure enough you can expect to be judged in front of the world’s social media jury. And HR has a foot start (what’s the opposite of head star?)!

  4. 09/30/2010 13:05

    Besides the “unfortunate” tagline, there’s the question of how much difference “spin” can make.

    Sadly, so many of my coaching clients, confronting challenges at work, will often say things to me like “I spoke to HR. You know, the ‘hardly relevant’ department….” Although I now work outside the corporation, my foundations are in HR. It’s saddening indeed to hear the profession continually made such a joke of.

    But, perceptions arise based on experience. If the profession is to change it must do so inside out.

  5. david permalink
    09/30/2010 13:16

    Give enough rope……

    Great to see the business value coming out in the three dilos – not.

    As for the juggler…I think its great to see HR heads promoting their useless skills out of the office, rather than at work.

  6. 09/30/2010 13:21

    I juggle, therefore I will be amazing at HR. Didn’t you get the same message I did? :-p

  7. Rob Jones permalink
    09/30/2010 13:38

    …yet another reason I stopped paying subs and feel distinctly Groucho-esque with regard to this lot.

    In my humble they represent a group of people who talk about adding value whilst acting like the pariah in the room. In my experience we need to stop whinging about not being involved and push our way in, stop moaning about not being recognised and JFDI and finally stop talking about partnering the business and become part of it!

    *breathes out

  8. Ailsa permalink
    09/30/2010 13:39

    Well said HRD – I too object to my subs being squandered on this type of brainless rubbish. It defies belief this ever got to roll out.

  9. 09/30/2010 13:40

    From the horse’s mouth

  10. garethmjones permalink
    09/30/2010 15:08

    hmmmm this is a tough one! There is no doubt that if we wanted to attract more attention and ridicule, this campaign delivers that in spades. But I’m a great one for root causes and it has little to do with the creative (or possibly not) agency that dreamt this one up.

    The clue is in the name – Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. Unfortunately, institute can so often mean institutionalised, which brings with it a whole heap of problems not least of which is the ability/desire to move with the times or tackle thorny issues. And right now we have a rapidly changing market/environment, thorny issues aplenty and an institute that is really struggling to deal with it.

    I would take issue with KarenF’s comment – which doesn’t really help – you cant point the overall finger at Jackie. This is not a Plc. And its not a new phenomenon that Jackie has brought with her either. Unless you know Jackie, you cant make a judgement about her. I know her and i can tell you she is a high quality, sharp and commercial HR professional with very high standards.

    There was a lot of moaning and groaning when she was appointed into the role by the wider HR community but do you really think it would be any better now had they appointed another typical HR ‘personality’ with a PR presence to match? Don’t be ridiculous. If you want change, you have to hire someone who can drive it and many of the usual suspects who were in the frame would have been a lot worse. Jackie was a good choice and, in my opinion, they were lucky to get her.

    The problem lies not with her but with the rest of the institutional board and the wider member community – yes, you and me. 12 years ago I was in talks with the publishers of the PM magazine about taking the jobs and careers on-line – yes 12 years ago! But despite the fact that it made absolute sense, the publisher eventually went cold on the idea because it “wouldn’t fly with the Institute.” By rights, the CIPD/PM website should be the richest, and most active job board/career site for our industry. But alas, they missed a golden opportunity.

    Changing this institutionalised thinking amongst the board AND the members is the challenge and even the CEO faces a huge battle to break through the entrenched views. It will take time and a superhuman effort but sitting back and throwing rocks at Jackie in particular, which so many HR people choose to do, will make absolutely no difference.

    Instead take the issue up with the board and VP’s, not just Jackie – link here – Write to them instead. Hell, call them up – you are a paid up member, demand an audience.

    There is no doubt that it needs to change and as a fully paid up member i too am very frustrated with what i see. But if you want it to change, get off your arses and get involved. Its a membership body and, in my opinion, its current delivery matches the quality of its membership. Controversial i know, but there is some truth in that.

    My final thought. Social media is a great way to raise the profile of an issue and galvanise momentum for change – you see it all the time in the consumer environment. How about we use the power of social media to start a movement for change in the profession? hmm? How about it?

    Oh, yes i forgot. Cant do that – Most of the HR profession seem so caught up in making up a policy for, and controlling the use of the evil that is social media that they are not actually using it. Doh! What kind of thinking is that?


  11. 09/30/2010 15:51

    Gareth, great points.

  12. 09/30/2010 15:53

    I think I’m mostly there with Gareth on this one. It’s not a great ad campaign, but it’s not the worst I’ve seen. Looking at it from as an objective perspective as possible, it will generate interest in HR. It’s not going to set the world on fire, but I feel that if there is ridicule to come then it will more than likely come from within the HR community, as proved here, and what an own goal that is!
    It is your professional body and running it down does the CIPD and more importantly you, no credit.
    If I was looking for a career change or starting out in the working world, the campaign would spark my interest. Reading this thread would make me think twice.
    Criticism if fine, but please make it constructive. Ranting does no-one any favours.

  13. 09/30/2010 17:41

    At first I laughed out loud when I read about the “think again” slogan. Then I got pissed off. And now I’m mostly disappointed, but also a bit sad. This is why there will be no smileys today.

    Although I’m not familiar with the CIPD, I assume that they are a professional organization, not just a handful of enthusiastic HR practitioners who meet informally and try to promote their profession on weekends.

    And based on this assumption, I’ll say that this campaign is an embarrassment.

    I’m not a CIPD member, I’m not even working in the UK, but I care very much about HR.

    And once again, we made it way too easy for those who say that we’re just a bunch of clowns. I know, I shouldn’t make a big deal out of this, but it’s just frustrating.

  14. 10/01/2010 06:56

    I was thinking about this last night.All that’s missing is two words and a question mark. had the headline been ‘Think you know HR? Think again’ then, given it’s aimed at those considering a career within human resources, rather than already there, it could have worked. A headline should question, intrigue or make a powerful statement. That’s where this one went wrong. It doesn’t do any of those things.

  15. 10/01/2010 08:50

    I think I agree with Alconcalcia – this was the exact headline I thought of as an alternative (once I realised they were still carrying on with HR). However it would still have been really cheesey!

    But as I blogged yesterday (see the link above if you are interested), I have been disappointed in the past to see the CIPD making no effort, compared to say, the ACCA with graduates or younger people: I entered and left university not knowing what HR stood for (well, to a politics grad obviously it stands for Human Rights). And I do think the CIPD should be doing something about this and trying to attract talent.

    The headline is bad, the concept is fair enough, but the website and execution, as theHRD said in his tweet earlier is bad.

    However I’d still like to think it’ll work, or that the CIPD will refine it and focus it better in future. It doesn’t have to be cool as such, but it does need to be appealing…

  16. 10/01/2010 09:23

    Normally I ignore these types of messages coming out of the CIPD. But ironically, after reading your post I had to track down the link so I could have a look myself.

    And sadly, I feel that the website still doesn’t capture what’s great about working in HR.
    I love the fact that some days I’m presented with a challenge that I haven’t got a clue how I’m going to sort it. So I have to think hard and creatively to determine how I’m going to acheive a win-win situation. I have to negotiate, compromise and be tenacious. And at the end, I like to sit back and feel proud about what I’ve achieved. (I could go on….I can be quite passionate about how great HR is if given the time & space.)

    Either they picked the wrong people for the “day in the life” section or I’m all alone….

  17. Ministry of Truth permalink
    10/01/2010 10:03

    How about “HR it’s not a disease” as their next campaign?

  18. 10/01/2010 10:07

    “Build a tree, don’t knock it down for goodness sake!! Was always a favourite environmentally friendly headline of mine out of the Alan Partridge stable. I wonder what Alan’s doing these days? Maybe he could front the next CIPD conference with his son Fernando or daughter Denise.

  19. 10/01/2010 12:47

    I’m not suprised by any of this. This is typical of a trade body that isn’t really ready for social. I introduced social channels to the REC, the recruiting version of the CIPD. There biggest concern was who was going to authorise the tweets!
    I think you are wrong to blame or single out any individual. Everything in a trade body is done by commitee. It is the commitee as a whole for allowing it that should take the wrap. That said, from what I remember, the inclusion of a twitter stream and you tube channel etc is something of a step forward by the CIPD. There is still some way to go to achieve anything even half-way social, but it is a start.
    Attempts at ownership and control of the hashtag is typical of this. “We want to be seen as social but we don’t want anyone to say anything bad about us!” There are plenty of consumer brands that have tried (and failed) at the same approach. Better to have no social than a pure PR exercise. I am sure some of the pseudo-intelectuals that surround HR and social-media will have an opinion on this.
    It would be a shame to alienate your voice from that of CIPD. You are one of the few genuine voices that actually do the job, even if we dont know who you are. (You could be Jackie Orme for all I know 🙂
    In recruiting, the trade body, REC, went backwards when the dissident voices within went off and set up a seperate trade body, many on a personal agenda. (We now have 4!). This has weakened the lobbying position of the body during a crucial time when the AWD threatened the industry, split membership and expertise and took away support during the difficult economic times. It has suited some people, but the industry would have been stronger with one united body. It has, and is a confusing and major setback.
    I’m sure there is much discontent within the CIPD. You are somthing of the Chez Guevarra and mouthpiece of this through your blog. Keep rattling your saber but retain your membership. Maybe even stand for office and fight the good fight. The CIPD needs voices like yours.
    Keep complaining and bitching and nagging at the powers that be, post on the hashtag often and goad them in to dialogue, but fight from within!
    Viva le revolution,

  20. Rick permalink
    10/01/2010 15:38

    Sorry mate, I don’t agree with you on this one. This campaign is a minor issue. In general, over the past few years, the CIPD has really raised its game.

    John Philpott has become one of the talking heads of the recession. Policy makers and the media listen to the CIPD. Even the Wall Street Journal takes notice.

    The CIPD has gone from being a rinky-tink operation to a serious player in the big discussions of the day. In the end, we all benefit from that. Status for the CIPD means status for its members too.

    The Think HR campaign might be a bit iffy but, in the grand scheme of things, it’s not that important.

    My thoughts here:

  21. Lalexander permalink
    10/01/2010 22:36

    I can’t say that I completely disagree with you, but this blog was fucking arrogant. You call others cockless half-brains while you take advantage of one, lets call it “mistake”, by the CIPD.

    The blog is fun to read, but did you think for one second that it was probably not easy for an organisation like the CIPD to try something completely new online? Did you expect them to do everything right the first time?

    To use your own words: what the fuck were you thinking? Or were you just high on your own sense of self-importance?

  22. 10/04/2010 08:43

    @Henry – I’ve changed the sub heading to the website now because of you!

    @KarenF HR Queen – Welcome! Do you think I might not be getting a Christmas card either? 😦

    @Aloncalcia – A good point. Things move so quickly now that reaction is almost instantaneous.

    @Christine Livingston – YES….I write about this time and time again….we need to sort ourselves out. It is about professional standards not about gimmicks and propaganda.

    @david – Thanks for commenting and welcome. The three day in the life profiles upset me more than the strap line. Do they reflect a day in HR? Certainly not like any day I have ever had.

    @Ben Eubanks – Damn they’re always cutting me out of the loop. I’ve got a big red nose and a wig though. Does that mean I can make it into the Training department?

    @Rob Jones – Yes, yes, yes and yes.

    @Ailsa – That is the thing isn’t it. This is our body, using our money.

    @Aloncalcia – Thanks for the link.

    @GarethMJones – Gareth, thanks for the comments. For the record, I wasn’t taking a swipe at any individual….but at the organisation as a whole. That said, SOMEONE signed off this initiative. If I fuck up at work, I am held to account. The CIPD employs people, it is not a voluntary organisation. So someone somewhere should be looking very sheepish in my opinion. I think you answer your second point yourself. I too have tried to engage with the CIPD over the years at a number of levels, but like the response you received to the PM jobs section, I’ve found that my words seem to dissipate into the morning mist. It doesn’t encourage you to re-engage.

    @kevinkeohane – That’s ‘cos he’s a bright boy 🙂

    @Matthew Scott – Sorry Matthew but you are wrong on this one in a number of ways. If I had written a quiet measured piece do you think it would have made top billing in Personnel Today? Do you think it would have made it into the CIPD press cuttings? Do you think it would have led to the statement being issued late on Friday? No. Your argument is essentially for passive submission and acceptance of below par performance. I, for one cannot accept that.

    @Etienne – I think this is an issue for us all wherever we may live and work. I know that a lot of my fellow bloggers in the USA have the same frustrations with SHRM too.

    @Aloncalcia – As a copywriter I bow to your superior knowledge. It sounds sensible to me and no less punchy. Perhaps CIPD could contact you via your website? 🙂

    @Charlie Duff – You make a great point, it doesn’t need to be cool it needs to be appealing. And I completely agree with you that we need to bring bright graduates into the profession, however, I think this will always be a struggle when so many of the more senior HR people are quite frankly incompetent.

    @KarenCWise – No you aren’t alone. There are lots of us out there who look at this and think, what? You’re right working in HR can be fantastic, so why do we need to portray it in such a dull way?

    @Ministry of Truth – Want me to pass them your contact details? You could get a gig there! 🙂 HR is for life not just for Christmas…..

    @Alconcalcia – 🙂 🙂

    @BillBoorman – As I have written today Bill I’m not going anywhere, because I want the CIPD to be strong not weak and if that means holding them to account then I think that is the right thing to do. I like the Chez Guevarra reference though! 🙂 And no I’m not Jackie, I’m sure she is a lot more measured and articulate than me!

    @Rick – I respect your view, but I can’t agree. I’ve commented on your post so I won’t go through it again. People can take a trip to your site to see the other side of the argument.

    @Lalexander – Thanks for commenting. I allowed your comment because I believe in free speech, even if it is critical of me. In answer to your question, yes I do think we should aim for right first time. I think that is important. And you should probably hook up with Etienne (Besson) in the comments above. It would appear that the two of you have a lot more in common than anyone would imagine………

  23. 10/04/2010 16:47

    I go for a little run and miss all this fun. I reckon the most intriguing point is you being Jackie?

  24. Grumpy permalink
    10/06/2010 15:30

    I do support CIPD making attempts to raise the bar in terms of HR but am regularly amazed at the incompetence and inappropriateness of their efforts.

    CIPD should be a Professional Body whose Corporate Chartered Members are recognised as true HR professionals. We are not ‘marketeers’ and I do wonder if CIPD are seeking to justify their existence by allowing non qualified people in to full membership. It may be good for membership numbers but not the profession.

    Let’s get back to basics, consult with members outside London and outside the Private Sector. Too many mistakes for me.. Purchase of Bridge, allowing all and sundry membership, Chief Executive (and others) salary. etc etc…

    Yours Mr Grumpy of Godalming

  25. 10/07/2010 08:25

    “please do not misuse the hastag….” says it all really #haventgotaclue

  26. 10/07/2010 08:41

    @PeterGold – I know, I know… can’t leave me alone for one minute without me getting into a fight with someone. Bad HRD!!!

    @Grumpy – Great point and something that I have repeatedly talked to the CIPD about. Membership standards are the most important factor if you want to raise the bar, but there is a trade off with revenues. Which is more important?

    @Jon – 🙂 Yup


  1. The CIPD has raised its status – that’s good for all its members | Flip Chart Fairy Tales
  2. Is unconferencing a good response to unconvincing? « Don't Compromise!
  3. See-Eye-Pea-Disaster « Don't Compromise!
  4. Oh what a tangled web we weave « My Hell is Other People
  5. Webbed feat « My Hell is Other People
  6. See-Eye-Pea-Disaster | Don't Compromise
  7. Control Vs. Uncontrolled « West : People Matters

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: