Correct me if I’m wrong but putting on a cape doesn’t actually *make* you a superhero, right? Well, Florida officials are now investigating why one unemployment agency in the state spent $14,000 to buy red capes for 6000 unemployed citizens. Yes, this actually happened.
The agency, Workforce Central Florida, had an idea to start a campaign called ”Cape-a-Bility Challenge.” It gave both job seekers and employers the chance to win $1000 prize packs. In order to do so, WCF asked them to participate in various activities like taking a Facebook quiz titled, “Which superhero are you?” liking the WCF Facebook page, reccomending someone on LinkedIn using the word “super,” tweet a job opening from their website or take a photo with Dr. Evil Unemployment. Yes, they even made up their own supervillain.
Have you seen this man??
“All job seekers who show proof of the activity will be provided the official entry form and an official Cape-A-Bility cape (while supplies last),” said the original fact sheet. The Job Seeker Prize Pack was to include:
- $300 VISA or American Express gift card for career clothing and dry cleaning
- $250 gas gift card to travel to interviews and job search activities
- $125 Staples gift card for resume paper
- $100 subscription to the Orlando Business Journal
- $100 pre-paid cell phone to contact employers
- $50 gift card to Great Clips
- $50 gift card to Barnes and Noble
- $25 gift card to the U.S. Post Office for postage
While the chance to win those prizes might sound good on the surface, many unemployed Floridians were not pleased with the tone of the campaign. Originally set to run from April 11 – June 30, Workforce’s website has since removed the original posts for both employers and job seekers about the campaign and issued a press release stating their withdrawal of the program.
WORKFORCE CENTRAL FLORIDA has listened to the public, and will be withdrawing our admittedly out-of-the-box creative campaign, “Cape-A-Bility Challenge” later today. Even though it seemed to offend some, it was the farthest thing from our intention which was to introduce our programs and services to job seekers and employers who need them. The decision was made today by our volunteer board leadership team in concern that the campaign may have been a little too out-of-the-box and missed the mark with such a broad audience.
Fortunately, we’ve achieved some success in the short week and a half the campaign has run, including new job postings online, new job candidates registered for services and an increase in usage of our website.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, the entire campaign cost $73,000. About $2,300 of that money was spent on 12, five-foot-tall Dr. Evil Unemployment foam cutouts. “Although the agency has said that was all public money, Vice President Kimbery Sullivan on Wednesday suggested the capes were bought using cash from a non-public account. She provided no details,” said the Sentinel. According to the paper, who were first to reveal the plan, WCF is a private, non-profit agency but receives about $24 million in federal funding.
WCF director Gary J. Earl is defending their idea, saying his agency helped put 59,000 people back to work last year. The Agency for Workforce Innovation’s Executive Director Cynthia Lorenzo wrote to Earl, ”I have serious concerns with the content and approach [of the project] …With more than 1 million Floridians currently out of work, spending any amount of money on collateral materials such as the red capes included in your campaign appears to be insensitive and wasteful.”
With the superhero capes empblazened with the WCF logo, they most likely cannot be returned. Information on what use will come of them or what will be done with the prizes or leftover funds has yet to be released.