Weekend teaser – Workday ads, genius or bleh?


This Workday ad is mesmerising. Does it do its job in the context in which it is seen? That’s an interesting question with ramifications for creative thinking in the otherwise gloomy world of TV ads.

I almost never watch TV these days so am spared the ordeal of advertising. But when in the US (I am currently in Muskegon, MI – a lovely spot by the way) and tipping up to a sports bar then your choice is removed. But then you know that going in since you also know there will be wall to wall TV. Even in the bathroom.

The US obsession with baseball, football, ice hockey, basketball, golf and Nascar make for an advertiser’s wet dream as the nation’s men (mostly) stay glued to a seasonal diet of winter and summer sports.

This year, Workday is sponsoring one of the US Open golf competitors (don’t ask me his name – can’t remember, don’t do golf) and naturally they’ve created an advert to go with it – see above.

Last evening as I chomped my way through ribs and shrimp at Brann’s Steakhouse and Sports Grill, I could not help but watch the ad. Even though I had no idea who it was at the beginning, around 45 seconds in, the penny dropped and I knew it was a Workday ad. That despite I couldn’t hear the sound track since the bars tend to mute most of the TVs. Even so, I found myself uncharacteristically enjoying the 90 seconds of interruption.

Back in my hotel room I did what anyone would do and Tweeted that experience. And then the following happened:

What makes this exchange interesting is that the advert did not name a single competitor although as I said in a reply to DJ, I felt bad for Kajagoogo! I then put DJ out of his misery by naming a few possible competitors that happen to include his indirect employer SAP. Why is this interesting?

The whole premise of the advert is that 80’s developed software is no longer relevant to the 21st century. The fact DJ effectively acknowledged that suggests even insiders recognize there is an issue. So score one monster bullseye to Workday’s creative team.

As I implied at the top of this story, I’m not a fan of advertising. Too much of it is bland, dull and just uninteresting. This is an exception. The question now is how effective that advertising will prove to be in the coming months as the Workday sales and marketing teams wring out whatever value they can from this campaign.

My questions to readers:

  • With or without sound, does this advert work?
  • Does the association between competitive sport and smart advertising still hold allure, if only in certain markets?
  • Do the costs justify the outcomes?

Disclosure: Workday and SAP are partners.

Featured image clipped from ad as seen on YouTube.

    Comments are closed.

    1. greg_not_so says:

      this is not a bad ad and not really against the competitors as it simply puts Workday on the map as very few really know or care about backoffice systems, even though we all depend on them. i think the golf venue is very appropriate as it’s the sports of choice for accounting (consulting) firms as well and a natural VAR (value-add reseller) for products offered by Workday. now, having a lot of experience doesn’t really make you obsolete, does it?

    2. qmacro says:

      Interesting that you thought that. I was making the point based on the fact that the only real enterprise software company that was writing proper enterprise software in the 80s and is still relevant now is SAP. Oracle was playing with the concept, I didn’t count JD Edwards as relevant not did I Sage.
      To equate that with an acknowledgement that one is associated with dinosaurs as did someone on Twitter following our exchange is rather far fetched and out of touch 🙂

    3. says:

      qmacro I always suggest that consultants ensure they keep an eye on potential competitors. Very few do that. As a side note….it has taken SAP 40+ years to reach approx $6bn in Software licensing fees. Workday will hit $1bn in <8 years with high double digit growth continuing. 
      On the competitive sniping front it might also be worth checkout mgmt out Irfan Khan’s recent direct response to Oracle’s in-mem announcement. Pot, kettle, black?

    4. says:

      greg_not_so Obsolescence depends on your POV contextualized by the markets to which you are relating.

    5. qmacro says:

      dahowlett qmacro indeed, and not just the competition, but competing and (potentially) complementary technologies too (hence my tiresome banging on about ROA and REST for example). 

      On sniping against the competition – totally agree that it’s not good wherever it comes from.