Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.


People are fond of public niceness.

Well, except on Twitter and Facebook.

Corporations are people too. And many believe that if they’re good upstanding public citizens, no one will hear about their cursing, carping and drinking.

What, though, if you laugh at another company in a recruitment ad? That’s surely not de rigueur, cricket or, um, jai alai.

Or is it? When Apple suggests at one of its acclamation shows that Samsung is merely a fax machine coupled with a 3-D printer, this is its own sort of recruitment ad. (“Come work for the cool company that makes originals!”)

Fashion site Betabrand has taken that attitude and actually put it in a recruitment ad. I hear choking sounds from HR directors all over the world. They’re sensitive souls.

Betabrand was obviously excited by the news that the HP Enterprise Services Division was imposing an alleged dress code on engineers and other scruffy beings whose badges of honor include their very scruffiness.

HP was allegedly banning ripped jeans, short skirts and even, perish the concept, t-shirts.

So Betabrand created a recruitment ad featuring its extremely fashionable employees.

Wait, it featured appallingly dressed engineers. Well, engineers in various tasteless t-shirts.

The AC/DC t-shirt, far too tight, worn by one is painful enough. But then comes the individual -; the CTO, no less -; with tassels hanging from the nipples of his t-shirt.

That’s a sentence I never expected to write.

The whole point of it is to mock HP and to insist that Betabrand will never have a dress code.

I wanted to go along with the amusement. I did go along with the amusement. And then I paused.

Perhaps you, too, might see a one tiny drawback.

One of the great issues in the tech world is the male-centric, sometimes misogynistic attitude of many engineery types.

Everyone who talks in this ad is male. The only sight of women comes in a group shot at the very end.

That’s a pity when you’re a tech brand.

That’s a pity when you’re a fashion brand.

That’s a pity when you’re mocking HP, whose chairwoman, president and CEO is Meg Whitman.

Mockery can be a marvelous tool for recruitment. But you have to mock very, very well.