While many might have difficulty understanding what Salesforce.com’s Superbowl ad is all about, to me personally it reflects Salesforce.com inner corporate culture and way of thinking 100%.
It’s bold. It’s rides the wave of popularity. It’s a young crowd that runs a business. Business is play and play is business. It’s a place where executive dreams are being realized.
And, reflected by a stock price that far exceeds hard-number financial valuation, so far Salesforce.com has been able to manage just fine with riding hype cycles, tapping trends, and being hip.
The way to evaluate Salesforce.com’s superbowl ad is to reflect on the big-picture competitive scenario. Chatter.com is not so much competing with ‘tiny’ Yammer as Salesforce.com is competing with mass-market player Microsoft.
Today, everyone knows Microsoft. Everyone already owns one or more of its products. That Golliath Microsoft is now going after the cloud, Salesforce.com market segment. Moreover, it’s vital move. Microsoft has to go there for survival. (Did I read 5 minutes ago ‘PCs are dead’? I did.) Microsoft’s current offering of an extremely low $34 a head for cloud services, i.e. about 1/2-1/3 the cost of its closest competitors (incl. Salesforce.com), is tell-tale of what lies up ahead.
Microsoft’s core strategic mission has been to get 2 cts from everyone in the world of computing. Prices have always been affordable and products rather good. Competitive strategy has been to gain market (segment) dominance as fast as possible. Then it typically locks competition out by creating interactivity across Microsoft products/services while simultaneously creating incompatibility with competitors products/services, buying up competition or otherwise threatening them out of the market. It kept the money stream continuous through new version release.
Twitter+FB+CRM+Good/Cartoon/Fun/Celeb= serious salesforce business.
Now, for Salesforce.com to effectively compete with Microsoft, they have to be like David and think out-of-the-box. To be brave beyond believe. Play is business. Being hip … is doing good, … is cartooning, … is embracing African American, … is Salesforce.com.
Superbowl ads create broad market awareness. Plus, they iconically show off companies who are ‘with it’ and ‘who have made it’. That’s what the $3m paid for. Whether or not it was marketing money well spent depends on Salesforce.com’s accompanying marketing and sales action. After all, David did bring 5 stones for his sling to the battle.