PeopleSoft's $30 mil effort puts a human face on e-biz

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PeopleSoft reminds business leaders that people are at the core of any successful e-business in an estimated $20 million to $30 million ad and marketing campaign breaking today.

The $1.4 billion provider of enterprise application software for Internet companies will spend three times more on the campaign -- from Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners West, San Francisco -- than it did last year.

The company will need those resources and more as it confronts deeper-pocketed rivals such as SAP and Oracle Corp. PeopleSoft competes against both companies in providing Internet software to industries such as banking, healthcare and insurance.

COMPETITIVE SPENDING

SAP recently kicked off a $75 million brand campaign by Ogilvy & Mather, New York, and Oracle's $100 million effort via Grey Worldwide, New York, is nothing less than a full-court press. The spending levels make it hard for anyone to miss those companies' branding messages in the hypercompetitive enterprise software category.

But PeopleSoft believes its campaign will cut through the noisy

e-marketplace by invoking a unique tone and tapping its strength in providing flexible and intuitive products. PeopleSoft supplies software to Fortune 1,000 companies, enabling them to run critical business processes such as supply chain functions, customer relationship management and human resource capabilities.

"Our heritage is in developing products that are flexible and easy to use, and that capitalize on how people need to work at the office," said Pam Jeffries, director of corporate advertising. Ms. Jeffries said she believes the intuitive aspect of PeopleSoft's offerings is a differentiator: "SAP is known for very inflexible solutions that aren't customized," she said.

"PeopleSoft's strength is literally in their name," said Dennis Byron, director of enterprise applications research at International Data Corp., a technology consultancy. "Their heritage is in looking at people as an asset that [business] people can manage and improve."

Two of four 30-second TV spots break today on cable news, financial and sports channels such as Bloomberg, CNBC and CNNfn, targeting a "C-level" audience (CEOs, chief information officers, chief financial officers, chief operating officers, etc.) with the new tagline: "People power the Internet." That tag replaces, "PeopleSoft. Applications for e-business."

Why the change?

INSIGHTS

"We need to communicate to the marketplace that PeopleSoft sees the Internet in a really different way . . . the Internet is only as brilliant as we make it," Ms. Jeffries said.

Documentary-style TV creative reveals insights into how people feel about their work and how they want to work. One spot shows an executive-level man in an office that overlooks the warehouse floor. He's about to leave the office and as he puts on his jacket, he notices something important pop up on his computer screen. His jacket only half on, he re-engages in his work as a copy line pops up: "Technology makes it work. People make it happen." As the spot ends, another line reads: "Customers, employees, suppliers. People power the Internet."

NO DIALOGUE

The visually driven vignettes have no voice-over and no dialogue. "They're very fly-on-the-wall," Ms. Jeffries said. In another spot, a young woman works to fulfill an order in a giant warehouse. She rips the order from the printer, jumps on her scooter and glides down the aisle to locate the right product.

A copy line reads: "Millions of e-businesses and not one that runs by itself." The girl then throws her order into the bin on the assembly line conveyor belt and scooters away. The spot illustrates supply chain management.

"What determines success is harnessing the power of all the people connected to your company -- your customers, suppliers -- they're all a kind of extended sales force for that company," said Nigel Carr, managing partner-general manager, Kirshenbaum.

The campaign, running through yearend, also includes more than a dozen product-centric print ads destined for business and trade publications. The first print ads debut in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal on June 22. Interactive buys include online editions of the print target. PeopleSoft also plans to reach its high-level target with event marketing, e-newsletters, sponsorships and other forms of direct marketing.

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