“#NoSnowflakes,” warns an employee recruitment campaign, but the West Salem-based construction company meant no political offense by the message it put on a Third Street billboard, according to its business recruitment manager.
The term was first used in pop culture to disparage spoiled, lazy millennials at the turn of the century and in more recent years has been applied generally to political liberals.
“We don’t care what politics a person has as long as they show up and work hard all day long,” Greg Brickl said when asked about a politically loaded term that has raised some eyebrows.
Brickl said Brickl Bros. values all of its employees, along with the racial, religious, political and other diverse backgrounds and experiences they bring to the job.
“Snowflake” got its start as a significant term in pop culture in the 1999 cult film “Fight Club,” in which author Chuck Palahniuk’s Tyler Durden character tells his crew of anarchist thugs, “You are not special. You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake.”
As part of a campaign to recruit people to the construction trade, Brickl Bros. uses about 10 different hashtags, including the #NoSnowflakes used on a billboard at Third and Jackson streets. Other hashtags include #LifeSkills, #BoldlyForward and #TrueGrit. Brickl said they reflect the kind of job candidate his company is looking for.
The construction industry means hard work, he said, and employees have to be physically and mentally tough. The campaign targets people who are attracted to this kind of work.
“Construction isn’t a career for anybody,” Brickl said. “It is a career for a small percentage of the population who can work as hard as is required. For those unwilling, another career might be good for you.”
Twitter and Facebook searches for #NoSnowflake produce thousands of political posts criticizing liberals and college students.
Thomas O’Guinn, a marketing professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and expert on branding and advertising, said he didn’t think using the term made sense, but he could understand its application. He said the move could result in a smaller applicant pool or even a loss of liberal customers if the campaign rubs enough people the wrong way.
The connotations of the term are easily found using an internet search, O’Guinn pointed out.
“I can see the market logic,” he said. “But they could have done the same thing without sticking their thumbs in the eyes of some people.”