The mid-week long read: candid camera

Opening up to a new generation of Porsche employees

2y ago

Porsche is experiencing a period of unprecedented growth, building more cars than ever, venturing into unchartered digital territory and embracing a radical new future with its all-electric Mission E programme. To keep abreast of the challenges in these dynamic and exciting times, our workforce is expanding rapidly.

Porsche already receives around 150,000 job applications every year and regularly tops employer ranking lists. We like to think that this is partly down to a tangible sense of togetherness and close cooperation, something that has been important to Porsche since its earliest days. To underline how highly we regard these working values, Porsche is launching a new campaign designed to highlight its openness and integrity, while offering an occasionally lighthearted insight into day-to-day life at Zuffenhausen.

Developed by Scholz & Friends Berlin and photographed by Scottish photographer Jane Stockdale, the campaign consists of a range of print and large-scale adverts in addition to various online activities. Crucially, there are no staged scenes, models or specially selected staff brought to the fore. Instead you have black-and-white images and reportage-style clips that highlight the human side of Porsche as an employer and brand.

Stockdale spent five days Zuffenhausen, Weissach and Ludwigsburg. She documented the people and processes at Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur, on the Taycan pilot production line, during vocational training, at Smart Mobility, at Porsche Digital, on the 911 production line and at the electronics integration centre. But there was no set process. She would simply introduce herself to Porsche employees before becoming virtually invisible. The idea was personal proximity, without being distracting, following the employees closely but in such a way that, in most cases, they forgot she was even there.

Her photos show the lighter side of life in Zuffennhausen, such as an employee’s feet poking out from underneath a 911, with the message: “You don’t have to stand in the spotlight to help an icon shine.” Elsewhere the campaign declares: “Have a weakness for fast cars? You’d better work on it.” In another clear piece of proactive and positive messaging, the text reads: “You can’t build tomorrow’s cars with yesterday’s leadership methods.”

“We are starting from a position of strength,” concedes Andreas Haffner, Member of the Executive Board responsible for HR and Social Affairs at Porsche AG, “but it’s no longer enough to enable us to find the right talented people and retain them in the long term. This is because our excellent sports cars influence how we are defined as an employer, and they symbolise prestige and financial success above all else. However, this simplified view does not do justice to Porsche as an employer.”

The basis of the new campaign is the company’s cultural model, something which was further developed by more than 500 employees from every department and the workers council in 2017. The key values behind this model are “passion, courage, performance and one family”.

Unlike previous image campaigns, these pictures were all completely unplanned. Stockdale worked within the selected departments with nothing but a backpack and compact photography equipment; no assistant, no spotlights, no retaking shots if an employee was not captured perfectly. She always presses the shutter button when it is least expected, and only works in black and white. “This way, contrasts can be presented uniquely even while the photos are being taken,” she says. At the end of each day, only about a hundred photos out of the thousands made the cut. The new subjects for the image campaign were then selected from a total of 500.

For Stockdale, it was a hugely enjoyable, and possibly life-changing, process. “I was particularly impressed by the amount of enthusiasm with which the employees worked,” she said. “My enthusiasm for the sports cars also grew as the days passed,” she added with a smile. “At some point, I’m going to need a Porsche 911.”

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