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Witty and viral marketing of enterprise applications?

Written By: Predrag Jakovljevic
Published On: November 13 2007

Reading in-flight magazines and running through airports today, we can see advertising for enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, but it is always a serious stuff (albeit well done and to the point), such as "Best run businesses run on SAP" (or so). Nowadays, however, if we go to the virtual online, social-networking world (with viral marketing and advertising at its core), we can even find attempts at humor in marketing ERP. To see what I mean, please go to YouTube and see a humorous take on ERP systems and ERP vendors.

With the "cat in the tree” theme, Lawson Software (evaluate some of its products) is attempting to use viral marketing, with cartoonish humor, to gain a small corner in the otherwise big budget advertising fight between SAP and Oracle (if not Microsoft and IBM too). Lawson is a relatively large vendor, with revenues nearing the US$1 billion mark, but is quite far from the financial muscle of SAP (evaluate some of its products) and Oracle (evaluate some of its products). Therefore, can creativity and viral marketing make a dent in this big budget world or is this just “budget envy” on the part of Lawson?

I would be interested in whether you found the piece amusing and conveying the right message. In other words, I’d be interested in your feedback. For example, did Lawson capture SAP (SEPP in the video) and Oracle (L. Carole in the video) the way the market sees them? Rumor has it that more of this is coming. So, will this kind of messaging work for Lawson and its smaller peers? Or, is this dirty pool that can boomerang on the advertiser?

Namely, will the market buy the portrayal of intended stereotypes of the biggest ERP vendors being overkills, while the smaller ones are exactly what the doctor ordered? In the video, both ERP giants tried to save the cat with complex and somewhat destructive (ouch!) approaches (in a "shooting birds with a cannon" approach). Is the message of SAP being "like pouring concrete over users' ankles" getting a bit tired? After all, SAP and Oracle now have simpler products, such as SAP Business One (evaluate this product) or Oracle JD Edwards (evaluate this product), for simpler environments. On the other hand, Lawson S3 (evaluate this product) and Lawson M3 (formerly Intentia Movex, evaluate this product) are not exactly simple products either (i.e., implementing them is not exactly as simple as downloading the Internet Explorer), although, in some vertical markets, the products can fit like a glove.

To play devil's advocate (and be literal), Lawson might have underestimated how complex it can be to get a rogue cat out of a tree...and the cat is still alive at the end of the day (even if badly banged up). Further, did Lawson really intend to compare its product to a stinky dead fish? Someone might thus have found this cartoon pedantic and not very clever, like a bad comedian trying hard to make people laugh?

At the end of the day, do you think Lawson managed to convey the right message, or was it a waste of time and money (even if less than via traditional pricey marketing channels)? Also, do you still select mission-critical ERP vendors and solutions via their brand names and recognition (perceptions) or via an evaluation process with due diligence?
 
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