OK, so it’s not exactly a new tactic (a classic of the genre is the ‘jilted lover’ billboards that have been used to promote a variety of TV shows), but it is interesting to see when B2B marketers step outside of their comfort zone.
This example from SAP appeared in the Wall Street Journal yesterday and got quite a lot of traction online. There were some naysayers (“another dumb advertiser trying to be funny”), but I thought it was well executed. It was both dull enough and odd enough to work, and the idea that business constantly seeks feedback yet never actually wants to listen to it is surely a universal truth.
Why its hot…
SAP are having a tough time – just this week they took a big restructuring charge and are laying off 4,000 workers. In tough times you’d expect them to be conservative and play it safe. It’s refreshing to see them taking a leaf out of the playbook of some other categories and doing something unexpected.
A smattering of Direct to Consumer brands
The growth of direct-to-consumer brands have been one of the major disrupting trends for clients over the past few years (across many categories, but particularly CPG). Think Allbirds, Casper etc (they’re also known as Digitally Native Vertical Brands (DNVBs), Instabrands, Digital Private Label etc…)
A conference report from last week shows some of the struggles these phenoms may now be facing. Essentially the model of plastering the L Train in posters, buying a load of Instagram ads, and sticking a subscription service for toothpaste/underwear/vitamins/whatever on the back, really may not be sustainable. As the panelist from General Catalyst says:
“At the end of the day, as glorious as this sounds, underlying economics often come down to a simple equation, which is: ‘What is the lifetime value and what does it cost to acquire?'” he said. “And if there is a story and there is a community and there is a movement, that has a significant impact on the lifetime value and the customer acquisition cost. And if there isn’t, it’s much more likely that it’s like a one hit.”
Why it’s hot…
This is pretty important because a huge number of clients have been grappling with these disruptors (think GSK struggling with Quip toothpaste subscriptions) and figuring out how to emulate them. If the model is starting to creak it may be time to reassess what’s working and what isn’t from the approaches D2C brands adopted.