Last week Salesforce.com representatives briefed me on the Chatter.com roll out strategy. They’ve bought a couple of Super Bowl ads and they are working with the Black Eyed Peas’ Will.I.Am to produce the ad. The whole process is managed by Chatter, naturally.
In the ads Salesforce will provide a real-life demonstration of Chatter being used to coordinate the creative activities of a swarm of people in San Francisco, Los Angeles and who knows where else to produce the ads. At their heart, the paired ads will be a use story, working on the Super Bowl project, with the Super Bowl half time entertainers to boot. Understand one more thing — this is to promote the freemium Chatter product.
So much to say here. Remember when companies burned their venture capital on Super Bowl ads just to gain a little altitude in their markets? The networks got fat and rich on the takings and the companies? Quick, name a memorable Super Bowl ad from a tech company! You’ll probably default to Apple’s hammer throwing Big Brother spot from 1984. Remember that one? IBM was Big Brother?
This year a dot com will launch its first Super Bowl ad a dozen years or more after it was fashionable. Heck, unless I am missing something, this is Salesforce’s first ad period. In the intervening years, this dot com became a quite sizeable outfit — without burning its cash on a Super Bowl ad, thank you very much, but instead with revenues pushing two billion bucks (imagine if that represented licenses instead of pay by the drink SaaS). Not only is Salesforce spending its own money on the promotion, it isn’t even promoting its first product. Chatter is the first product of the company’s next act but it long ago proved its chops.
To me this gives resonance to the idea of “all-in” a term another vendor is using to highlight its commitment to the big technology wrinkles of the last decade. But all-in should be about a big gamble and a decision to risk greatly based on the soundness of one’s vision, products and people. All in ought to be about the future, not the past.
At this stage, buying a Super Bowl ad is no big deal for a company like Salesforce beyond the fact that the company simply doesn’t buy ads to promote itself. The money is no factor. In the last year Salesforce has paid out many millions to acquire other companies and just under $300 big ones to buy the land to build its corporate headquarters on.
I can’t wait to see what they do for the ads — as I understand it, there will be two sandwiching the halftime show — but one thing is clear. In keeping with its history of disruptive innovation, Salesforce’s halftime ads might also disrupt bathroom break habits and many people might decide to “hold it” through halftime. There may even be enough interest in 415, 650 and surrounding area codes to affect water pressure readings during half time. Someone should get last year’s readings and compare year over year just for fun.