First-time Super Bowl advertiser Workday hopes to make noise in its big game debut

A rookie Super Bowl advertiser aims to do this year what even a veteran might find challenging: get people talking about technology they may never have known affects them every day.

Workday has a clever concept that it hopes will make people more aware of the software it licenses to corporations that helps manage finances and human resources. In a minute-long spot scheduled to air during the third quarter, Joan Jett, Ozzy Osbourne and Gary Clark Jr. will be among the colorful musicians promoting their wares.

Executives hope the shock of seeing rockers call attention to workforce management will be enough to get football fans talking about “being a rock star” Monday morning after the game, says Pete Schlampp , the company’s marketing director.

With Fox looking at $6 million to $7 million for a 30-second ad slot, a Super Bowl ad investment shouldn’t be made lightly. Every year, a few Super Bowl marketers do just that, with fledgling advertisers relying on homemade concepts, small ad agencies, and intuitive decisions. Workday isn’t doing any of that, says Schlampp,

“This is something we’ve been budgeting for and thinking about for a while,” he says in an interview. “When there are economic downturns, we know that companies that invest in their brands get a great return on the other side. We are sure to make this investment”.

Workday might have a chance. Ads about work life have proven popular at previous Super Bowls. Careerbuilder, the online job site, made a name for itself in the 2000s and 2010s with several years of ads featuring chimpanzees as office workers. The symbolism was quite easy to understand. And Monster, another provider of online classifieds, struck a chord in 1999 with an ad in which children repeated the mantras of frustrated employees everywhere. “I want to work my way up to middle management,” said a young urchin.

Still, a newbie may have trouble standing out from the rest. NBC’s Super Bowl LVI telecast in 2022 had 30 new advertisers, representing about 40% of the total in-game. CBS’ Super Bowl LV telecast in 2021 featured 26 first-time advertisers, with names including Oatly, Mercari, Vroom.com and Klarna, according to Kantar, an ad spend tracker. Some of these fledgling sponsors bet most of their seed funds on the Super Bowl, making an offer that instant recognition will help boost fortunes. Some were never heard from again.

Workday has taken a pragmatic approach to the business. His advertising agency is Ogilvy, the WPP-owned blue-chip advertising firm that is known for the landmark work it has done for clients such as IBM and American Express. Workday is no stranger to national television advertising, recently featuring an ad featuring Peyton Manning in multiple roles. And he hired director Jim Jenkins, who has experience in Big Game promotions. In 2020, he directed a Super Bowl ad for Jeep that featured Bill Murray reprising his role from the 1993 film “Groundhog Day.”

“We’ve been talking about this for fun for at least five years, and seriously for two years,” says Schlampp.

The company isn’t leaving much to chance. He’s already begun seeding his colorful concept with consumers, using a full-page ad in The Wall Street Journal to talk about the concept of the employee as a rock star, and has launched a social media effort asking consumers to tag rock. stars they meet at work. Workday is dropping teasers this week featuring Osbourne and Clark, and is hoping to get some new attention when it reveals other musicians who are part of the announcement but haven’t been revealed.

And while what Workday does may not be as easy to explain as a can of soda or a bag of chips, Schlampp hopes the colorful speech at the Super Bowl will make the company as memorable as those types of advertisers. “This is not what you would expect from a typical enterprise software company,” he says. “This is really fun and bold.”

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