A recent ad campaign by Fiverr attracted a lot of attention, most of which was negative.
But the ad and reactions to it nicely illustrates the risk and attitudinal profile differences between independent workers (freelancers, self-employed, etc.) and those who aren't.
Our favorite headline related to the campaign is Tragic Ads Attempt To Glorify Desperate Hell Of Gig Economy.
But the article getting the most attention is The New Yorker's The Gig Economy Celebrates Working Yourself to Death.
Most of the controversy comes from the print ad shown below.
Key quote from the New Yorker article on the ad:
No one wants to eat coffee for lunch or go on a bender of sleep deprivation—or answer a call from a client while having sex, as recommended in the video. It’s a stretch to feel cheerful at all about the Fiverr marketplace, perusing the thousands of listings of people who will record any song, make any happy-birthday video, or design any book cover for five dollars.
There was also a tweet that went viral about this ad. It said "The 'gig economy' is literally killing us. Most depressing ad of the day goes to Fiverr."
Fiverr calls the campaign "In Doers We Trust" and here's how they describe it:
"In Doers We Trust" articulates the ethos of Fiverr's current bootstrapping entrepreneur members -- heroizing them -- with the goal of bringing more into the fold. The campaign positions Fiverr to seize today's emerging zeitgeist of entrepreneurial flexibility, rapid experimentation, and doing more with less. It pushes against bureaucratic overthinking, analysis-paralysis, and excessive whiteboarding.
Our firm spends a lot of time studying the psychographics (motivations, attitudes and behaviors) of independent workers. Because of this, we get why Fiverr released this ad and campaign.
Simply put, most independent workers see themselves as doers who make things happen. They take pride in being hard working and self-reliant. They also know their path entails making sacrifices in exchange for the autonomy, control and flexibility it provides.
The Fiverr ad campaign plays to these attributes.
We also study the psychographics of people who aren't independent workers. We do this to understand why some people choose to become independent while others prefer traditional jobs.
This research shows that most of those who aren't independent workers are substantially different in terms of risk profiles and attitudes about work relative to most independent workers.
The quick summary is most people who aren't independent see independent work as being much more risky, unstable and demanding than independent workers do.
These large psychographic differences explain why Fiverr released this ad and why the reaction has been so negative.
The Fiverr folks no doubt liked this ad because it fit the profile of gig workers, which is something they are very familiar with.
What they missed was the ad also triggered and reinforced the negatives many associate with independent work.
We're finishing up a deep dive research project on the risk and attitude profile differences between independent workers and those with traditional jobs. The results are fascinating.
We'll be releasing the study findings in the near future.