A new ad campaign, launched by the Institute of Management Accountants, hopes to make young professionals aware of both the importance and value of its Certified Management Accountant certification.
Earning an industry certification is cool and valuable.
That’s part of the message the Institute of Management Accountants is trying to get across with its just-launched “You’ve got to earn it” ad campaign. And IMA is using tattoos to do it.
The integrated, multichannel campaign—which IMA hopes will attract accounting and finance professionals under the age of 40 to earn its Certified Management Accountant (CMA) certification—will include digital, print, radio, and TV ads, along with a new website experience and paid search.
The 30-second TV commercial, which IMA plans to run during late-night talk shows like “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” and “Conan,” is particularly noteworthy. In it, a group of accountants watch as their coworker—who is so proud of earning his CMA—gets his back inked with the words “Certified Management Accountant.”
Although accountants and tattoos might seem like an unlikely combination, millennials and tattoos aren’t. According to The Gate| New York advertising agency, which helped IMA develop the campaign, 40 percent of adults ages 26 to 40 have a tattoo.
So, when IMA decided it wanted to attract millennials to its certification, the group sought to do it in a way that might resonate with young professionals—or at the very least elicit a smile and raise awareness.
“We wanted to catch peoples’ attention,” said Dennis Whitney, IMA’s senior vice president of certification. “We wanted to show people that accounting was interesting—that we have a sense of humor.”
The campaign came about after IMA heard from its members, who are accountants and financial professionals working inside organizations, about a skills gap among new hires.
“A lot of accountants at schools are trained for their first job, which is basically recording financial information and auditing financial information,” Whitney said. “But what happens is more than 75 percent of those people leave the auditing profession to work inside organizations—and a lot of the skills they need for the job—they’re really not trained in schools for.”
The CMA certification—which Whitney said focuses on the skills that are in-demand, from risk management to planning—helps millennials close that skills gap.
IMA also hoped the campaign will raise the recognition of the certification at large. According to Whitney, the association has certified more than 50,000 CMAs since 1972, but there’s an opportunity for many more to be certified. And although this multiyear advertising campaign is a big investment, Whitney said IMA is hopeful that a year from now it will be seeing an uptick in people taking the exam and filling in their skills gaps.
“The CMA is a rigorous exam, so we have a tagline that says, ‘You’ve got to earn it,’” Whitney said. “It’s a 50 percent pass rate. You’ve got to work hard; it’s not easy, but at the end of the day you’ve got something you can be very proud of—that you can display on your back if you want, but probably more likely on your wall.”