Editor’s note: This post was originally published in March 2015 and has been updated with the latest available ads.

From Technical and Product Advertising to Humanizing the Brand

In the early days of SAP‘s existence, Marketing and Advertising had not been a strong focus. It was all about the product, solid German engineering and the strong belief that excellent products don’t really need marketing. Salespeople and even marketing people talked in complex jargon often nicknamed ‘SAPanese’. It was often confusing to outsiders. Marketing was a decentralized function, organized at a country level. Multiple advertising agencies produced independent local campaigns with inconsistent messaging. It was not clear what the company was standing for in the eyes of the customer and even more to new prospects. Marketing and Advertising were extremely product focused. When asked what SAP stands for neither internal stakeholders nor customers had one common understanding. It was the time of the wild wild west in Advertising especially in the eighties and nineties all the way to the Millennium Change in 2000.

In 1997, SAP America moved their advertising account from Anderson & Lembke to Arnold Worldwide. Lisa Baldwin, formerly of Chiat/Day, Fallon and Ketchum, managed the account on the SAP side. Arnold created a theme-line for SAP that was the envy of the category. “A better return on information” illuminated the results companies achieved by installing SAP.  Arnold helped bring the brand to life by creating an ad layout that mimicked the shape of the SAP logo. Noteworthy ads during that time were the Year 2000 ad telling the story that SAP clients would be celebrating the turn of the century and not dreading it.
Arnold also helped SAP celebrate the fact that a large percentage of the Fortune 500 companies were SAP clients.

SAP tasked Arnold with humanizing and warming up the brand. Arnold responded initially with a testimonial campaign featuring proud SAP customers photographed in fun, off-beat ways telling why choosing SAP had a huge positive effect on their bottom line. The campaign featured a wide variety of SAP clients of all sizes. Noteworthy were Pacific Coast Feathers, Compaq, Burger King, Florida Crystals, Sam Adams, Fujitsu, among others. Arnold also created a print and online campaign celebrating industry expertise by claiming that using SAP allowed everyone to “have a good day.”
The “city of e” campaign announced that SAP was boldly moving their company into the digital world. A video telling this dramatic story was launched at Sapphire.
The truly remarkable thing about some of the initial team that created this campaign (Lisa Baldwin, Tom Hrabal, and Francis Sullivan) in the late 90’s is that today they are still all working together creating marketing materials for all kinds of companies, including for some ex-SAP employees such as Lynn McCann and Narina Sippy.

One Voice, One Brand came only to fame after the year 2000 when SAP hired its first CMO Marty Homlish. It was the time when the press and analysts said that SAP missed the Internet, Marty came and changed everything. Marty gave SAP the ‘it’ look and generated billions of dollars in brand value over more than a decade.

This blog is intended to show you in a visual form from where SAP started and where it has been going over the last 4 decades. The selection of the advertisements is just a snapshot of what was produced by SAP around the world and I encourage everybody to join the conversation and post all these neglected or forgotten ads which have been produced over the years.

Here are some of the people who had a major impact on Advertising over the last 4 decades. Peter Leyh, Rudi Moecklinghoff, Klaus Besier, Jeremy Coote, Paul Wahl, Bonnie Ravina, Alex Ott, Lisa Baldwin, Tom Hrabal, Susanne Labonde  (1972 to 2000)  followed by Susan Popper and Costanza Tedesco (2000 to 2015). SAP just launched a new ad and TV campaign called “Run Live with SAP”.

Please contact Snezhana Todorova, stodorova@nytromarketing.com, if you wish you post your most liked print or TV ads on this blog.