Sortable uses Donald Trump to lure talent back to Canada

Waterloo-based ad tech firm plays off U.S. Republican candidate's campaign

A Waterloo company that aims to improve the online ad experience is capitalizing on the polarizing nature of Donald Trump’s campaign for the U.S. Republican nomination in its own ads to recruit technical staff.

“Feeling homesick?” the ads from Sortable appearing on Facebook and Instagram ask, with a picture of Donald Trump smiling next to the tagline. Given that many software developers graduate from schools like the University of Waterloo and later leave the country in search of jobs in Silicon Valley, the campaign suggests expats might want to give Canada a second chance.

“The ad is meant to be lighthearted, and has so far generated a lot of engagement,” said Brenden Sherratt, who leads digital marketing at Sortable. “We have found that the best candidates are not actively looking for jobs, so we have to do something to grab their attention. Trump is a polarizing figure and using his photo with a simple message seems to have hit on the mark with Canadian expats.”

The ad was done in-house, and has been followed up by a blog post titled Thinking of moving to Canada? Sortable is hiring.

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The tactic actually has some data behind it. According to Mashable and other sources, Google searches about moving to Canada surged as much as 350% following Trump’s victory in seven primary races earlier this month.

Sortable makes an engine that mediates ads to help determine whether a particular consumer is best served by a traditioanl ad, a video or native content based on a variety of data points. The company hopes to double in size before the end of this year, and is looking for at least 20 developers, among other roles. Though that definitely means expats, Sherratt said the firm isn’t limiting itself to the anti-Trump brigade.

“We are trying to hire the best people, regardless of where they live,” he said.

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