Korn Ferry

Korn Ferry

The Global Talent Crunch

The B2B Marketing Awards 2019

Gold Award: Best Use of Thought Leadership

The B2B Marketing Awards 2019

Silver Award: Best International Campaign

Corp Comms Awards 2019

Best International Campaign

Corp Comms Awards 2019

Highly Commended: Best Corporate Campaign

CIPR Excellence Awards 2019

Best International Campaign

CIPR Excellence Awards 2019

Mark of Excellence: Best Content Campaign

SABRE Awards EMEA 2019

Best Global Programme

IN2 SABRE Awards EMEA 2019

Certificate of Excellence: Best Use of Original / Commissioned Research for PR

PR Week Global Awards 2019

Highly Commended: Global Content

ICCO Awards 2018

World’s Best Campaign – B2B


Korn Ferry, the global executive search firm, challenged Man Bites Dog to create a global C-Suite thought leadership campaign to substantiate its new brand positioning as an organisational consultancy offering more than executive search.

Competition for C-Suite attention has never been so intense. The threat of disruptive innovation has promoted technology to the top of the Boardroom agenda, and relegated talent to the bottom. With worldwide headlines proclaiming that AI will lead to significant job losses, Man Bites Dog’s research showed that business leaders now believe that technology is more valuable than people.

Korn Ferry needed a campaign that would enable it to put talent back onto the Boardroom agenda as a strategic business issue and deliver against three key objectives:

  • Repositioning: Change perceptions of Korn Ferry from executive search to broad organisational consulting.
  • Reputation: Position Korn Ferry as a global thought leader on talent by showcasing expert insights, data and IP.
  • Relationships: Create a powerful hook for Korn Ferry consultants to have profitable conversations with business leaders and political influencers.


Man Bites Dog’s strategy was to create a campaign that would make global business leaders take notice, by translating the “soft” issue of people into “hard” business and economic impact – demonstrating that talent should be at the heart of business strategy.

Using our proprietary 4D Strategic Ideas Framework, Man Bites Dog synthesised intelligence about the market, the macro environment, prevailing thinking and Korn Ferry’s proposition to identify a signature perspective that would challenge the C-Suite’s talent blindspot by highlighting the value of people to organisations.

Man Bites Dog identified an opportunity to challenge the perception that technology and machine learning will make talent less important, by setting out to prove that the opposite is true: AI will generate more skilled jobs, making the right kind of talent more important in the future of work.

Our hypothesis was that globalisation, demographics and the growth of knowledge intensive industries would mean that corporates in major markets would struggle to find the skilled talent on which their future depends. Far from looking forward to a technology-enabled talent surplus, business leaders are sleepwalking into a ticking time bomb: the world’s first truly global talent crunch.

Man Bites Dog challenged the conventions of economics by showing that traditional labour forecasting (which assumes market equilibrium between supply and demand) is unfit for the twenty-first century. We designed ambitious, world-first research to robustly evidence the talent crunch – the mismatch between skilled talent supply and demand – in 20 major developed and developing economies at three future milestones: 2020, 2025 and 2030.

Man Bites Dog designed a three-stage programme of data and content that would map to Korn Ferry’s service streams, enabling them to showcase their expert consulting abilities and generate profitable conversations at a higher C-Suite level.

Peak One: The Global Talent Crunch – Man Bites Dog created a powerful new economic model for labour, based on demand-side macro forecasts to map the gap between talent supply and demand, revealing that companies can expect a global talent deficit of more than 85.2 million skilled workers by 2030, threatening $8.5 trillion lost annual GDP (equivalent to the combined GDP of Germany and Japan).

Peak Two: The Salary Surge – Having measured the cost of the talent crunch to economies and sectors, we brought the issue closer to business leaders by forecasting its impact on employment costs. Showcasing Korn Ferry’s world-leading reward capabilities, Korn Ferry’s consultants mapped our economic model against their proprietary salary database. The Salary Surge study uncovered a $2.515 trillion rise in annual payrolls globally by 2030, threatening companies’ profitability. Driven by a 16% shortage of skilled labour globally, wage bills are set to rise by an average of $11,164 per worker by 2030.

Peak Three: The Talent Shift – Man Bites Dog designed global opinion research to create a gap analysis between the economic reality and business perceptions. We highlighted leaders’ complacency with just one in ten having a long-term talent plan. This created a clear call to action for Korn Ferry’s strategic workforce planning services.


To generate sustained impact, Man Bites Dog and Korn Ferry developed a nine-month global integrated marketing communications campaign driven by a single key message: The Talent Crunch is coming.

Man Bites Dog’s consultants partnered with Korn Ferry’s global marketing team to produce a global content toolkit aligned with their needs. This included reports, videographics, infographics, blogs and an interactive salary surge calculator, all housed on a dedicated microsite. Korn Ferry produced a series of individual country reports, translated into local languages, with content diced by theme, region, sector and service offer to maximise client relevance. Business champions in 20 countries mobilized the entire consultancy to go out and have profitable conversations with campaign content.

The three global studies were launched in successive waves, each supported by targeted PR and social media campaigns, exclusive events, multiple webinar series and segmented email nurture streams.


Reputation: The campaign set the business news agenda. It is Korn Ferry’s most successful media campaign to date: it drove the biggest spike in web mentions in the last 12 months, exceeded media targets by 900%+ and achieved truly global impact with 600+ pieces of high-quality international news and business media coverage, an online readership of 1.1 billion, 178 million reach and 157K social shares.

Revenue: The campaign was embraced by Korn Ferry consultants who took the study to market via 1-1 meetings, C-Suite roundtables, webinars, speaker platforms and exclusive events across 20 countries. New strategic workforce planning services generated millions of US$ in revenue directly attributed to the campaign, and the Talent Crunch data was used extensively in client engagements.

Repositioning: The Global Talent Crunch not only challenged the way that organisations and governments think about the talent questions posed by the future of work but firmly positioned Korn Ferry as holding the answers.

Get in touch with your challenges

>17,000% ROI

on Google Ads spend


dedicated pieces of global top-tier media coverage


Results against media impact targets


High-quality news, features and op eds
– from Bloomberg, CNBC, The Evening Standard and Forbes to Die Welt, with two front-page exclusives in Le Figaro