Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Failure of Oracle Marketing

Disclaimer: This is not a problem with Oracle only, but pretty much most large IT companies out there.

I travel frequently and it's a pleasant surprise when my eye catches some Oracle advertisement, be it on the front page of the Wall Street Journal or a billboard in Amsterdam airport. Having worked with Oracle technologies for most of the last 20 years, I'd obviously like to see them grow and succeed.

But the Oracle marketing folks have really got to do a better job in their advertising.

Today on my flight to San Francisco to attend Oracle OpenWorld 2013 (which is expecting 60,000 attendees!), I sat beside a rather seasoned economist and we were chatting away on current events and such. Midway through the flight, he started once again flipping through "The Economist" magazine which he brought with him.

Here's the full page ad on the back cover of the magazine:

I asked him, "What do you think this advertisement is trying to tell you?" He glimpsed over it, read the word "Human Capital" out loud, and pondered for another 10 seconds.

The he flipped open the magazine, and on the inside of the back cover was yet another "cloud" advertisement, this time from a company called NTT Communications. Once again, I asked him if he could hold it up while I took a snapshot of it:

He said "I like these clouds better. They look nicer."

That was his comment. Literally.

Two full page "cloud" advertisements in "The Economist" magazine by two major organizations, with zero meaning to the typical reader of the magazine. Stick those same ads in "InfoWorld" or "Profit", and it makes complete sense to the reader.

I don't know what these Oracle executives are thinking with their marketing strategy, but it appears to be trying to do two things:
  • Just throw the names Oracle and Cloud out there and hope it sticks with the average consumer
  • Playing it safe (albeit meaningless) since everyone is doing it
I could care less about NTT Communications, but was hoping Oracle would be a leader in their advertising strategy instead of just playing it safe and following the trends.

I'll admit that I know nothing about the concepts or principles of advertising and marketing, so I don't claim to be an expert. All I know is that in this one particular instance, in a real world example, Oracle has failed. And it's in my opinion that this is how Oracle is viewed to the average consumer.

(Yes, I understand that Oracle targets the enterprise, not the consumer market, but then again, why use typical consumer channels for your advertising if that were the case?)

Oracle, please be a leader, not only in your products, but in your marketing as well. I expect no less from you.

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