Cannes Lions



Case Film
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The automotive industry is a male dominated field. That is especially true for car sales: only 4% of car salespeople in the Dutch Opel dealership network are women. That misrepresentation didn’t just affect company culture but also Opel’s business: almost half of all Opel car sales were done by women and 80% of all car purchases are influenced by women (WARC, 2016). Reason enough to start recruiting women for a sales position at Opel.

Opel quickly found that traditional recruiting did not work. Women were simply not responding to their vacancies. Opel had to come up with a creative solution. The goal was to recruit 14 new female salespeople, doubling the amount of females in sales at that time. The ratio of interviewed applicants to fill a vacancy was on average 14 to 1 (Workable, 2018). So, the campaign had to deliver at least 200 eligible applicants.


A Opel survey (august 2017, n=1000) showed that there was a persistent bias about the car sales profession. The majority of people surveyed, including women, described it as a typical job for men. Opel realised that this was not a case of non-functioning application processes. Women felt intimidated to join an all-male workforce. This sparked the idea to set up an experimental recruitment campaign, introducing fictitious lifestyle brand ‘Jade’.

Opel placed two vacancy ads in a newspaper with the exact same job description, but each with their own design. One for Jade and one for Opel. The result was telling: Opel got applications from men, but Jade attracted over 40 female candidates. A selection of female Jade candidates were invited for a job interview and confronted with their own biases. Giving Opel the chance to show their ambition and the lengths they had to go to recruit women.


Opel wanted to start a nation-wide debate about the lack of women in the automotive industry.

And in a time where equal opportunities and stimulating participation of women in every industry was a current debate, the story of Opel desperately trying to find female employees was a completely new angle to the discussion.

Opel decided to film the interviews of the invited female applicants. The film showed the reveal of Jade and the open discussion about biases and opportunities at Opel that followed. The film was spread to nationwide press including a press release to make Opel the front runner in discussing the lack of women working in car sales.


Opel decided to send out the press release and campaign video with a registration of the experiment on International women’s day. A calculated risk, because the story could easily be lost in a massive amount of initiatives undertaken around this day. But Opel felt the story was unique enough to push through.

Opel first placed the two newspaper vacancy ads, invited the responding candidates, created the registration film and included that film into a press release. Unlike regular Opel press releases aimed at automotive titles, this story was released to a broad mix of national media. From large editorial women’s magazines to all big national news outlets.

The video, including an invitation to apply at Opel, was also pushed with paid media in parallel with the press release. This in order to reach women who had read or seen items in press to make sure Opel would generate new applications.


The story was picked up by all major Dutch news outlets. Opel’s story was featured in dedicated items on the best viewed news television broadcast in the Netherlands: NOS 8PM news. The most listened to afternoon radio program: Ruud de Wild on Radio2. And the press release was featured in the national newspapers with the biggest circulation numbers: Volkskrant and NRC among many others. As a result, Opel reached a potential audience of 30 million people, earned €700.000,- in publicity value and the video of the reveal was watched over 1.2 million times.

Best of all: Opel was able to fill its 14 open vacancies in an instant. The video featured an open invitation for women to apply for a challenging job at Opel. Over 600 candidates applied. And as of end of 2018, one of the best performing sales representatives at Opel is a woman!

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