BBDO NEW YORK / SAP / 2019
SAP is an established player in back-end enterprise software... a decidedly unsexy category led by legacy brands like IBM and ruled by decision makers (often CEOs or CIOs) who are conservative by nature and notoriously reluctant to change. A late 2018 acquisition changed the game, giving SAP the credibility to be seen as more than a company that provides back-end operational data; it’s also one that helps companies truly understand how customers feel about the experiences they provide.
Despite constantly being asked for their opinion, customers across every industry still feel like they’re not being heard. To illustrate this problem, we wanted to speak directly to CEOs using the same vehicle CEOs have traditionally chosen when they wanted to speak directly to the public — the newspaper open letter. So we placed a full-page, all-type open letter in The Wall Street Journal from a fictitious customer, Nick Vitale. In it, he offers feedback on everything from air travel to subscription models to waffles. The letter was followed on the next page with an immediate response written by the CEO of SAP, explaining how SAP’s new Experience Management services can help companies hear and respond to customers.
SAP’s target consists of business decision-makers who have largely relied upon cold, hard “operational data” like ROI to make decisions. But this type of data is offered by many companies. With a recent acquisition, SAP’s capabilities now cover “experience data,” which tells businesses how customers really feel about them and why. Our strategy was to let CEOs know that SAP can now help them make real-time decisions to improve customer experience. Because while eighty percent of CEOs believe their company offers a great customer experience, only 8% of customers agree. Key to our strategy was to craft a print execution in a business publication that would somehow cross into the digital space and generate a viral reaction — to speak directly to CEOs while eliciting a response from their customers.
Execution was timed to run the week that SAP’s acquisition of an experience management company (Qualtrics) was announced. In the publication synonymous with an audience of business professionals and decision makers. Placement was one-time only. Scale included only the print editions — approximately 2 million. But the success of our work amplified this scale nearly tenfold, as earned impressions hit nearly 20 million.
Screenshots of the letter jumped the chasm into social media, where the piece went viral, generating widescale venting of customer experience feedback and prompting responses from industries mentioned in the letter. Over just 3 days, using only organic PR and with no paid influence, the ad generated 18,895,010 impressions (13x the circulation of The Wall Street Journal), spread to 83 countries, and increased conversation about SAP 7,000%.
SPILLMANN/FELSER/LEO BURNETT, Zurich
2006, SWISS NATIONAL INSURANCE COMPANY