Branding Tales: Ariba’s Spendguy is more Spentguise and The Great ISM Toaster Giveaway!

I began a recent post on the Procurement Insights Blog with the statement that “the correlation between dynamic vision and technological ingenuity with brand development and acceptance in the emerging world of social media has yet to be really established.”

Or citing my December 30th interview with The Marketing Doctor, Dr. John Tantillo, and his retelling of a story about a great advertising campaign for a lousy tasting beer in the early 1960s, creating smart and provocative advertising will do little more than generate short-term attention if the product or service is found wanting in any way.

Coupa’s recent parody of competitor Ariba’s “Spendguy” cartoon in the first of a series of videos faces no such challenges as a growing group of industry experts have referred to the company’s on-demand platform as an “internet savvy e-procurement tool to change the way procurement is done online . . .”

On the receiving end of this good natured ribbing is Ariba whose attempt at humor with the Spendguy cartoon I felt was more “reminiscent of the Flock of Seagulls 80s-type corporate smirk, than the crisp witticism of the social media generation of today.”

Click on the image to view video

Of course Ariba is not the only organization to create an unimaginative campaign as a means to connect and engage  its target market in the hopes that it will produce a tangible (financial) result.

Within a day of receiving the Coupa “SpendGuy Schooling” video across my desk (make that virtual workspace), I received an e-mail  from the Institute of Supply Management “ISM” announcing that “For a limited time” if I joined ISM I would “save $20 with this special offer!”

Perhaps taking a page from the new Walmart commercials that present you with the “Save money. Live better” reason for shopping at the retailer, ISM suggests that this $20 windfall could be used to have “Dinner on us! (Or a CD, two tickets to a movie, 10 cups of coffee, etc.).”

I don’t know about you, but with two young children the $20 bucks wouldn’t cover the cost of getting a babysitter so that my wife and I could take them up on their generous offer to have dinner on them.  Even if we were able to get my mother in-law to babysit for free (she’s unionized now so we have to pay the going Grandma rate), MacDonald’s would likely be the only restaurant in which both of us could still get a meal for $20.

The fact that ISM is not a retailer but an association that is facing challenges in terms of its ongoing relevancy as it relates to its overall value proposition in key areas such as certification, an attempt to stimulate membership interest through what amounts to a bank offering “free toasters when you open an account” is as funny as the following Walmart commercial . . . from the clown’s point of view:


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