Monday, November 15, 2010

SunGard Advertising – Wherever You Don’t Care Who Knows What Business You’re In…

I wish SunGard’s new ads told me faster what the business does. I saw a version of this ad in The Wall Street Journal. I had never heard of SunGard.

It’s an arresting photo-illustration, visually faster than the other new SunGard executions. But none of them quickly tell what the company sells. Neither does the slogan, “Wherever the mission is critical.”

In fact, it’s only in the second sentence that I discover SunGard sells software and technology services. That seems to be enough for SunGard and its ad agency, Young & Rubicam.

If you’ve just spent big bucks on creating a new advertising campaign and spiffy new website, with all kinds of customer photography; and you’re running a four-month buy in eight of the world’s broadest business publications, wouldn't you want a more obvious link between brand and business arena?

On top of that, those creative Y&R guys have a little visual letter-play going on the ads – and online, too. Various shapes and alphabetic initials are buried in each of the photographs which, when you know they are there, will enable you to spell out (ta-da!) S-U-N-G-A-R-D. In case you didn’t notice.

This technique is named steganography – writing a hidden message so that nobody, except for the sender and intended recipient, knows there’s a message. It’s what Wikipedia calls a form of security through obscurity. Perfect for expensive advertising, no? Uh…no. (The aggressive website uses Flash to reveal the letters buried in each major photo-illustration to make the gag more understandable.)

There’s a secondary theme: LOOK FOR US. Appearing modestly in ads and far larger on the website, It’s a more directive thought which – I suggest – might have made a stronger campaign, given the visuals with the cutesy code.

To wrap up here, according to that same site, SunGard is:

…one of the world’s leading software and technology services companies.  SunGard has more than 20,000 employees and serves 25,000 customers in 70 countries. SunGard provides software and processing solutions for financial services, higher education and the public sector.

I didn’t know that. Probably would have enjoyed learning it. But not from these ads – even if the fire scene got me looking. 


Neil Fusillo said...

Back in the day, SunGard was synonymous with disaster recovery solutions. These days, I couldn't tell you what they do. Their name is hardly on the top of anyone's list of anything. Which, for a massive, multinational corporation, means they're doing something very wrong.

S. Reeves said...

"designer me" noticed the logo and the colorful stripes below it before I saw all the details in the photo image.