New GMAC Ad Campaign Makes Case for Business School

Posted by: Louis Lavelle on October 21, 2009

The Graduate Management Admission Council, owners of the GMAT, seem to have found a new ambassador for the brand. And he’s dressed as a hotdog.

The GMAT test’s current ad campaign plays on the bad economy to get grads to consider business school. On the home page, videos of three different characters in dead-end jobs implore you to “take the GMAT, now,” or else languish in career limbo working as a waiter, a “poop scooper,” or, yes, a giant hotdog.

There is something poignant about the well-spoken man in the sharp glasses and hotdog costume describing himself as the “world’s most over-educated wiener.” And it might tug at your heartstrings to see him offering “big, succulent wieners” to passersby on the street. “Instead of humiliating yourself in a job you’re overqualified for, why not take the GMAT and think about going to b-school?” he asks, before earnestly telling the camera, “This is the one time listening to a wiener can actually pay off.”

But though these spots will probably hit close to home for many recent college grads, it might be too soon to be taking life advice from sausages. And it’s unclear how credible the poop scooper is when she says that “earning an MBA is like putting your undergraduate degree on steroids,” then, overwhelmed by the smell, “What are these animals eating?” There are B-schoolers in the unemployment lines like everyone else, and critics argue that the only thing an MBA will put on steroids is student debt.

Then again, in a country that believes in education, these kinds of gentle scare tactics might be just the ticket. And GMAC probably has good reason to be shelling out for ads. The GRE has been mounting a threat to the GMAT’s B-school monopoly. Plus, though GMAT test taking is at record-levels now, this recession’s MBA boom shows some signs of flattening out and possibly subsiding over the next few years. Whether or not that happens depends on whether the B-school applicants of the future want to leave their jobs for two years–or if they have jobs to leave. A talking wiener might strike just the right note for a jobless recovery.

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