Vendor Wars, Customer Events and Twitter
By Jim Lundy
The war between SAP and Oracle just got a little nastier. At Oracle World this week, SAP launched a combined Marketing and Social Media Campaign that Featured its Hana offering in a face off against Oracle Exadata and Exalytics.
The SAP campaign featured:
– Full Page Wall Street Journal Ad
– Sponsored Tweets that targeted the #OOW12 Hashtag for Oracle World
– Lots of Individual Tweets from SAP Employees and Partners that used the Oracle #OOW12 hashtag
Put aside the discussion about the product comparisons, the issue here is the use of Social Media for a marketing campaign while a competitor is having their annual customer trade show. There is nothing illegal about it, but one has to question the ethics of using Twitter to jump into the conversations during the event. It is one thing to have individuals state their claims, but adding promoted tweets (from the Corporate SAP account) starts to cross the line of ethics and professionalism.
As a contrast to SAP’s actions, Salesforce, which is targeting Oracle in both CRM, HCM and newly defined Marketing Suites, has kept its a low key profile low key during this year’s Oracle World. Similarly, Oracle kept is presence low key during the recent Dreamforce (#DF12). We will note that Salesforce does have advertisements on all of the bus stops in San Francisco, a subtle, less offensive way of getting their message across.
Last year at Oracle World was a different story for Salesforce. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff’s presentation got moved during Oracle World, so he used Twitter to express his displeasure and then used it to market his new session. He probably wouldn’t have tweeted anything had his session stayed as planned, so there is a lesson there for Oracle as well.
On SAP’s actions this week, I had a conversation on Twitter about this with Social Media Legend Maggie Fox and there was agreement that it is a fine line when launching campaigns like this.
So will SAP get a backlash from their campaign? Time will tell. In my opinion, it might have been better to wait and launch a better, more complete campaign after Oracle World was over.
Marketers need to think twice about the tactics that SAP used, because what goes around comes around. It isn’t a good thing to attack a vendor during their user event. The risk of customer backlash outweighs any benefit that might come from executing such a campaign.