CIA on headhunting mission with online advertising campaign

The CIA launches new recruitment advert on online streaming platforms in a first for the agency.


The CIA is launching a sleek, modern and diverse advertising campaign as part of an online recruitment drive.

The agency hopes to captivate and connect with the 18- to 35-year-old market. Therefore, it has produced a fast-paced, Hollywood styled advert promoting work at its Virginia HQ, to be rolled out across online streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime.

In recent years, the CIA has faced increasing competition from private-sector employers when attracting this particular demographic. With more than 70% of all US households subscribed to at least one of Hulu, Netflix and Prime Video, the agency will intends to directly engage with potential employees by launching their first ever video advertising campaign.

CIA spokeswoman Nicole de Haay compared the new video, which will be rolled out in 15-, 60- and 90-second formats, to a more “traditional” manner of recruitment, such as university and career fairs. The CIA belives that using video advertising will be a more direct and efficient manner of engagement.

Efficiency and captivation is not the only aim of the agency’s modernised advertising campaign, though. The advert depicts diversity, both racially and sexually, aiming to reflect a modern America.

In line with this, it presents a youthful intake of CIA employees from various ethnic backgrounds, as well as presenting both female and ethnic minority leaders in various departments. Importantly, the patriotic line of “welcome to the CIA” is spoken by an African-American figure of authority, promoting a diverse leadership structure.

Earlier in 2020, the CIA described how diversity is not just important internally, but “essential to our mission of keeping America safe”. The advert stresses the importance of diversity to the workings of the national intelligence and security. Specifically, the it presents a scene in which a language specialist from a minority ethnic background challenges a “technically accurate” translation, by considering cultural context.

Since the 2016 US election, the agency has been subject to repeated attacks by the Trump administration, hindering both recruitment and employee retention. Furthermore, among the younger generation that the advert targets, the CIA has been accused of an underrepresentation of women and ethnic minorities and is still associated with key Trump ally Mike Pompeo, former CIA director and current Secretary of State.

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