No, it’s not what you’re thinking. I didn’t write for the orange Trump. I wrote for the other one—the green Trump that used to be the heart of Monster’s brand.
I worked for Monster around 2005, well after its “When I Grow Up” Super Bowl-ad heyday. At the time Monster’s biggest problem was figuring out how to shed its reputation as a fancy, white-collar job board and compete against more popular, less-expensive sites such as Craigslist and Career Builder.
To fight back Monster launched a sales campaign that promoted local recruitment packages in eight industries across 24 key markets. The project’s codename was “The Local Kit,” and I was hired to write the kit’s main content and adapt it to the different industries and markets.
There’s no question this would be a digital effort today, but personalization and mobile phones hadn’t taken off yet, so we relied on print collateral and email to get the word out. It all seems so innocent now!
I joined an incredible design and ops teams to bring it to life, which was a daunting effort. We had to create about 192 pieces of collateral and then print and ship everything to field sales reps in three months. Somehow we got it all done on time—probably because we stayed loose and had a lot of laughs along the way. The project was very successful. The sales reps told us it helped them break into new accounts, and the kit’s concept and design spawned about a million projects.
Monster was a fun brand to write for
Monster was a great brand to write for. Trump was a fun, approachable mascot that resonated with people in a familiar, almost creepy way. People went nuts for anything with Trump on it, especially the stuffed animal Trump we gave out at trade shows. I got to know the artist who created Trump and learned that Monster originally had a whole tribe of Monsters that represented different areas of the company. The only non-Trump Monster I remember was Zilla, which was the name of the sales portal that I managed for a while.
I stayed on for about a year and a half and wrote direct mail pieces, email campaigns, sales collateral, and anything else that needed doing. I also worked on a bunch of non-writing projects that helped me branch out and see how to shape content using different media. One of my favorite detours was filling in as the camera person when the real camera person wasn’t available. Memories include:
- Running around San Diego to capture every Monster sighting at SHRM for a post-show video.
- Going to Arizona to shoot video for the opening of the new call center, and stopping with my colleagues in the desert en route to the office to film the infamous “How to use a cactus as a back scratcher” scene that was left on the cutting room floor.
- Staying at a Merv Griffin hotel during that Arizona trip, and looking in awe at all the portraits of Merv and his guests that adorned the lobby. Merv had a fabulous life.
It was an insanely fun place to work, and it’s where my content career picked up steam. Looking back now, I realize the Local Kit was a proto content marketing project, and it was also my first taste of writing what’s now called sales enablement content.
Monster’s still around, but it’s not nearly as big as it used to be. For all its efforts as a groundbreaking site that helped people find jobs or candidates, Monster had an odd back story. It was owned by TMP, a giant agency that got its start in the stodgiest avenue of the advertising industry: the yellow pages. I think that’s one of the reasons why Monster had such a hard time staying competitive; a lot of senior management couldn’t quite make the transition from the yellow pages to the web.
I hadn’t thought about Trump / Monster connection until very recently, when I saw a giant Monster ad gracing the exterior of the Hilton Hotel in Midtown (which, ironically, was where the orange Trump waited out election night). In one of those “ah-ha!” moments that takes a while to sink in, I realized they’d phased out the Trump I used to know and replaced it with something that looks like Grimace on steroids. I don’t know when this happened, but based on the recent Google search I did on “Trump Monster,” I’m guessing it was fairly recently.