Should SAP Leverage “Germanness” in Advertising?

June 29, 2006

I was reading a post by Thomas again on SAP and he mentioned something he has said before

SAP needs to market its Germaness.

One of his old posts talks about VW and how well they do that. (Read that post here)

And in reviewing that post, I see that Thomas might find my armchair advertising advice for SAP from yesterday to be a little off.

However, I have to point out a couple problems with that.

  1. VW target audience is much different than most decision makers at large organizations – (but maybe not too far off from some smaller to mid-size enterprises)
  2. “Germanness” can still mean “inflexible” to some. That is exactly the opposite of what SAP is trying to be (and had a bad rap for in the past).
  3. Anyone who owns a newer VW knows what “well engineered” means — you cannot even change a headlight by yourself it is so tightly engineered into the front of the car (although a friendly local dealer did show me how – the manual, however, says you need to have the dealer do it).

To be fair, some humor might be nice. I think IBM has found a way to be that “trusted advisor” type of brand while using some humor. The VW humor is great, but different. (Personally, I think they could have had a more off-the-wall engineer in those ads Thomas referenced – with a slightly more funny accent.)

Where I think humor could work really well is in talking to the developers or consultants. These people need the humor and it’s a little more safe to make fun of yourself with them. It would actually build trust. At Morsekode, we’ve been trying to work with the SAP’s Software Developer Network SDN to inject some of that, but we’re still knocking at the door.

Having Said All of That. . .
Smart engineering is important and that is part of the trust SAP has earned. Don’t discount the user interface too much though. At the end of the day (that phrase is for Charlotte), it’s people who have to use the stuff and the productivity of companies depends on people.



  1. […] Maybe I feel bad for the German team’s loss yesterday? Or Maybe I simply spoke too soon? Either way, I may have to rethink my recent comments about SAP using it’s “Germanness” as a competitive advantage. […]

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