Has SAP Found Magic Formula (One) To Learn The Ropes Of Marketing?
On September 22, SAP AG (NYSE: SAP), the leading provider of enterprise
software solutions, unveiled a wide-ranging, global advertising and promotional
awareness campaign designed to "build upon its success as the world's
leading provider of e-business solutions". The brand-awareness campaign
has gotten an impressive promotional start with SAP's title sponsorship
of the inaugural running of Formula One racing at Indianapolis, one of
the most famous racing venues in the world and the birthplace of motor
sports. This is only part of the new global-awareness campaign. SAP will
also be a corporate partner of the West McLaren Mercedes Formula One racing
team through 2002, providing exposure for SAP at each of the 16 Formula
One events around the world. In addition, the mySAP.com collaborative
e-business solution platform will garner tremendous exposure by appearing
as the primary sponsor through 2002 of the two McLaren-run cars in the
F3000 racing series.
global appeal of Formula One is consistent with our efforts to expose
millions of people to the SAP brand, continuing our ongoing efforts to
build awareness for one of the world's leading technology brands, and
to symbolize that SAP is racing to the pole position of e-business solutions,"
said Martin Homlish, executive vice president and chief marketing officer
at SAP. "The combination of powerful, creative, focused messaging and
broad media execution will create tremendous excitement for SAP and the
also through an advertisement in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street
Journal, the new global campaign explores the challenge of finding
business success in the so-called "new economy" and documents how 13,000
leading companies use SAP e-business solutions to create value and increase
competitiveness. The campaign includes print and television advertisements
to be run in more than 25 countries. More than 40 leading business and
information technology publications will be targeted for print advertising,
and television placements are planned for each of the four major networks
in the United States, as well as networks in 10 other countries. Wide-reaching
airport and Web-based banner advertising also is included in the new program.
SAP continues to reinvent itself from a large, inert business applications
software company into an Internet leader. Despite its huge customer base
and mind share, created throughout the 1990s, SAP has had notable challenges
over the past two years. The company has belatedly recognized that its
US image problem is of not being flexible enough, and has resorted first
to an internal restructuring and then to an external image renovation.
a global TV marketing campaign is not new to SAP. The company launched
its last effort - an over $100 million global advertising campaign earlier
this year with 90-second TV commercials during the 2000 Academy Awards,
one of the most widely watched programs of the year. However, it had only
a limited success. For the last few years SAP has repeatedly lost marketing
wars against Oracle. It complacently responded to Oracle's savvy marketing
with its cumbersome technical marketing in a vernacular that consisted
of SAP-idiosyncratic buzzwords and acronyms not understandable to a typical
SAP has so far struggled in its attempt to develop and articulate its
image and strategy for new e-commerce technologies, it has recently been
making moves in the right direction to remain competitive in the "new
economy". The company seems to be more committed to partnerships and working
with other vendors that specialize in e-business and CRM software. Moreover,
it has replaced its clumsy former message that emphasized its mind-boggling
technological superiority with a simple message of satisfying customers'
requirements and helping them achieve results in the new Internet economy.
SAP has finally realized the need to explain what mySAP.com really is
and what it can do for existing and potential users. Its new global marketing
director and former Sony marketing executive, Martin Homlish, deserves
the most of the credit for the long awaited and needed change in direction.
campaign comes in the nick of time to fend off increasingly formidable
competitors, most of them being established marketing savvy businesses.
Since SAP's major revenue successes appears to be attributable to mySAP.com
as opposed to its traditional breadwinner, R/3, SAP faces further challenges
from Siebel, the IBM/Ariba/i2
alliance and Manugistics (as if the competition from Oracle and other
ERP archrivals were not enough!).
Only time will tell whether the prospective and existing users will understand
the new SAP message - and how they will take it. More important will be
how well the SAP sales and service force, particularly in the US, can
demonstrate the touted benefits to the prospect or customer. One should
expect a less arrogant and condescending approach than in the past.
diligence should always be paid to satisfying your unique requirements
as derived from your unique e-business strategy. While selecting a strategic
software partner is a challenging and risky undertaking, the positive
news is there are more companies competing for your dollars. Nonetheless,
one would be hard pressed to find a case where SAP should not be included
on at least an initial long list of vendors in a global ERP selection.
The depth and breadth of mySAP.com's offerings are attractive at first
comprehensive recommendations for both current and potential SAP users
can be found in SAP
- A Leader Under Reconstruction.